Staying Motivated to Exercise: Tips for Older Adults

 

 

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.

  1. Find Simple Ways to Make Exercise Fun and Enjoyable

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.

  1. Find Ways to Fit Exercise into Your Day

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:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take a walk with co-workers during your lunch break. An exercise buddy can help you stick with your plan to be more active!
  • Walk down the hall and talk with a co-worker instead of sending an e-mail, .
  • Park a little farther away from your office and enjoy the walk.
  • Join your company’s fitness center if there is one.

Search for Move Your Way: Tips for Busy Days on YouTube for more tips on fitting more activity into your day.

  1. Make Exercise a Social Activity

Many people agree that an “exercise buddy” keeps them going.

  • Take a walk during lunch with coworkers.
  • Try a dance class—salsa, tango, square dancing—it’s up to you.
  • Use family gatherings as a time to play team sports or do outdoor activities.
  1. Keep Track of Your Exercise Progress

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.

  • Carry your ID with emergency contact information and bring a small amount of cash and a cell phone with you, especially if walking alone. Stay alert by not talking on the phone as you walk and keeping the volume low on your headphones.
  • Let others know where you’re going and when you plan to be back.
  • Stick to well-lit places with other people around.
  • Be seen to be safe. Wear light or brightly colored clothing during the day. Wear reflective material on your clothing and carry a flashlight at night. Put lights on the front and back of your bike.
  • Wear sturdy, appropriate shoes for your activity that give you proper footing.

Walk safely in rural areas.

  • If possible, walk during daylight hours.
  • Choose routes that are well-used, well-lit, and safe. Choose routes with places to sit in case you want to stop and rest.
  • Stay alert at all times. If you’re listening to music as you walk, turn down the volume so you can still hear bike bells and warnings from other walkers and runners coming up behind you.
  • Always walk facing oncoming traffic.
  • Walk on a sidewalk or a path whenever possible. Watch out for uneven sidewalks, which are tripping hazards.
  • Look for a smooth, stable surface alongside the road.

Walk safely in urban areas.

  • If the road has guardrails, see if there’s a smooth, flat surface behind the barrier where you can walk. If you need to walk on a paved shoulder, stay as far away from traffic as possible.
  • Watch for bridges and narrow shoulders.
  • Cross at crosswalks or intersections. Jaywalking increases your risk of a serious accident. Pay attention to the traffic signal. Cross only when you have the pedestrian crossing signal.
  • Never assume a driver sees you crossing the street. Try to make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Before you start to cross a street, make sure you have plenty of time to get across. Rushing increases your risk of falling.
  • Look across ALL lanes you must cross and make sure each lane is clear before proceeding. Look left, right, and left again before crossing. Just because one driver stops, don’t presume drivers in other lanes will stop for you.
  • Check out city parks. Many parks have walking or jogging trails away from traffic.

 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.

  • Find local stores or malls large enough for you to walk around.
  • Walk up and down your stairs a few times in a row. Be sure the stairwell is well-lit and has railings for safety.
  • At home, do strength, balance, and flexibility exercises.

 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:

  • Check the weather forecast. If it’s very hot or humid, exercise inside with videos online, or walk in an air-conditioned building like a shopping mall.
  • Drink plenty of liquids. Water and fruit juices are good options. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. If your doctor has told you to limit liquids, ask what to do when it is very hot outside.
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothes in natural fabrics.
  • Dress in layers so you can remove clothing as your body warms up from activity.
  • Know the signs of heat-related illnesses and get medical help right away if you think someone has one.

 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:

  • Check the weather forecast. If it’s very windy or cold, exercise inside with videos online and go out another time.
  • Watch out for snow and icy sidewalks.
  • Warm up your muscles first. Try walking or light arm pumping before you go out.
  • Pick the right clothes. Wear several layers of loose clothing. The layers will trap warm air between them. Avoid tight clothing, which can keep your blood from flowing freely and lead to loss of body heat.
  • Wear a waterproof coat or jacket if it’s snowy or rainy. Wear a hat, scarf, and gloves.
  • Learn the signs of hypothermia.

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 diseasearthritischronic painhigh 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

  • Take a walk together each day. Exercise is good for caregivers, too!
  • Use exercise videos or check your local TV guide to see if there is a program to help older adults exercise.
  • Dance to music.
  • Be realistic about how much activity can be done at one time. Several short “mini-workouts” may be best.
  • Make sure he or she wears comfortable clothes and shoes that fit well and are made for exercise.
  • Make sure he or she drinks water or juice after exercise.

Even if the person has trouble walking, they may be able to:

  • Do simple tasks around the home, such as sweeping and dusting.
  • Use a stationary bike.
  • Use soft rubber exercise balls or balloons for stretching or throwing back and forth.
  • Use stretching bands.
  • Lift weights or household items such as soup cans.

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:

  • Stretch during TV commercial breaks.
  • Walk around when you talk on the phone.
  • Take more steps by parking farther away from stores, movie theaters, or your office.

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 healthymaintaining 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.

CINTAA Elder care shares useful information regarding healthcare on weekly basis. The post is only for information purpose only. Please check with your health care professional before using this information. To keep yourself updated with many other health tips, stay with us. We provide certified caregivers for seniors at home. If you need any help regarding eldercare, please feel free to call us today at 561-963-1915.

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