Staying Motivated to Exercise: Tips for Older Adults
4 Tips for Older Adults to Stay Motivated to Exercise
Physical activity is a great way for older adults to gain substantial health benefits and maintain independence. Try to make exercise a priority. Remember that being active is one of the most important things you can do each day to maintain and improve health. Try these tips to help you stay motivated to exercise.
Some people like to walk on a treadmill at the gym. Others find that kind of activity boring. The key to sticking with exercise is to make it interesting and enjoyable. Be creative. Do things you enjoy but pick up the pace. Do all four types of exercise—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility. The variety helps keep things interesting! Try some new activities to keep your interest alive.
You are more likely to exercise if it’s a convenient part of your day. Try exercising first thing in the morning. Combine physical activity with a task that’s already part of your day, such as walking the dog or doing household chores. If you don’t have 30 minutes to be active, look for three 10-minute periods. As you progress, add more 10-minute sessions until you hit your goal!
Work Out at Work
There are many ways to fit physical activity into your regular schedule, even while you are at work! Look for easy ways to add physical activity to your regular schedule:
Search for Move Your Way: Tips for Busy Days on YouTube for more tips on fitting more activity into your day.
Many people agree that an “exercise buddy” keeps them going.
The best way to stay motivated is to measure and celebrate your successes:
Staying Safe When Exercising Outdoors for Older Adults
You’ve made a plan to be more active, and you’re ready to go outside and get started. But before you do, make sure that you can exercise safely in your neighborhood. Here are a few tips that can help you stay safe as you get moving.
Think ahead about safety.
Walk safely in rural areas.
Walk safely in urban areas.
Bicycle Safety for Older Adults
Riding a bicycle is not only a fun family activity, it’s also a great way to exercise. Some people even use their bicycle to commute to work, go to the grocery store, or visit friends and family. When you’re out and about on your bike, it’s important to know how to be safe.
If you don’t feel safe exercising outdoors, be active inside.
Tips for Exercising in Hot Weather
Many people enjoy warm-weather outdoor activities like walking, gardening, or playing tennis. Make sure to play it safe in hot weather. Too much heat can be risky for older adults and people with health problems. Being hot for too long can cause hyperthermia—a heat-related illness that includes heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
If you want to be active when it’s hot outside:
Tips for Exercising in Cold Weather
You can exercise outdoors in the winter, but take a few extra steps to stay safe before braving the cold. Exposure to cold can cause health problems. Or do other outdoor activities when it’s cold outside:
Exercising with Chronic Conditions
Almost anyone, at any age, can do some type of physical activity. You can still exercise even if you have a health condition like heart disease, arthritis, chronic pain, high blood pressure, or diabetes. In fact, physical activity may help. For most older adults, physical activities like brisk walking, riding a bike, swimming, weightlifting, and gardening are safe, especially if you build up slowly. You may want to talk with your doctor about how your health condition might affect your ability to be active.
Staying Physically Active: Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias
Researchers are assessing the benefit of exercise to delay mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in older adults and to improve brain function in older adults who may be at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Older adults with MCI may be able to safely do more vigorous forms of exercise, similar to older adults without MCI, provided there are no other underlying health concerns.
Being active and getting exercise may help people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia feel better and can help them maintain a healthy weight and have regular toilet and sleep habits. If you are a caregiver, you can exercise together to make it more fun.
Tips for helping a person with dementia stay active
Even if the person has trouble walking, they may be able to:
Exercising with Arthritis
For people with arthritis, exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness. It can also help with losing weight, which reduces stress on the joints.
Flexibility exercises such as upper- and lower-body stretching and tai chi can help keep joints moving, relieve stiffness, and give you more freedom of movement for everyday activities.
Strengthening exercises, such as overhead arm raises, will help you maintain or add to your muscle strength to support and protect your joints.
Endurance exercises make the heart and arteries healthier and may lessen swelling in some joints. Try activities that don’t require a lot of weight on your joints, such as swimming and biking.
If you have arthritis, you may need to avoid some types of activity when joints are swollen or inflamed. If you have pain in a specific joint area, for example, you may need to focus on another area for a day or two.
Physical Activity and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
If you have COPD, talk with your healthcare provider or a pulmonary therapist to learn what he or she recommends. You may be able to learn some exercises to help your arms and legs get stronger and/or breathing exercises that strengthen the muscles needed for breathing.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that helps you learn to exercise and manage your disease with physical activity and counseling. It can help you stay active and carry out your day-to-day tasks.
Exercising with Type 2 Diabetes
For people with diabetes, exercise and physical activity can help manage the disease and help you stay healthy longer. Walking and other forms of daily exercise can help improve glucose levels in older people with diabetes. Set a goal to be more active most days of the week, and create a plan for being physically active that fits into your life and that you can follow. Your healthcare team can help.
A few easy steps to be more active:
Exercising When You Are Overweight
If you are overweight, don’t let that stop you from doing physical activities, including all four types of exercises. If you have difficulty bending or moving easily or feel self-conscious, try different activities, like walking, water exercises, dancing, or weightlifting, to see what works best for you. Anything that gets you moving—even for only a few minutes a day in the beginning—is a healthy start.
Exercise and Heart Health
Your heart keeps your body running. As you grow older, some changes in the heart and blood vessels are normal, but others are caused by disease. Choices you might make every day, such as eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, and aiming to be more physically active, can contribute to heart health. Inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who are active. A lack of physical activity can worsen other heart disease risk factors as well, such as high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, diabetes and prediabetes, being overweight and obesity. Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to keep your heart healthy. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week.
Exercising with Osteoporosis
Weight-bearing exercises, which force you to work against gravity, such as walking, jogging, or dancing three to four times a week, are best for building muscle and strengthening bones. Try some strengthening and balance exercises, too, to help avoid falls, which could cause a broken bone. Doing these exercises is good for bone health for people with osteoporosis and those who want to prevent it.
Exercising with Chronic Pain
Most people living with chronic pain can exercise safely, and it can assist with pain management. In fact, being inactive can sometimes lead to a cycle of more pain and loss of function. Talk to your doctor about what exercises/activities might be right for you. Each type of exercise—endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility—has its own benefits, so a combination may be best.
Exercise can help you maintain a healthy body weight, which may relieve knee or hip pain. Putting on extra weight can slow healing and make some pain worse. Remember to listen to your body when exercising and participating in physical activities. Avoid over-exercising on “good days.” If you have pain, swelling, or inflammation in a specific joint area, you may need to focus on another area for a day or two. If something doesn’t feel right or hurts, seek medical advice right away.
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