If you’re over 50, there are many considerations that you need to face when beginning, or continuing, an active lifestyle.
The 50-plus adult’s physical capabilities and chronic diseases make your individual needs different than those of a younger person.
Too often people jump into exercise or try to do what they did 20 years ago, injuring themselves in the process!
To encourage older adults to be active and minimise the risk of injury, here are some simple tips:
Get a checkup
Its is a good idea to meet with your healthcare provider to see whether you’ll need to consider any special modifications before starting an exercise program.
Know your options
Before starting any program, examine your options. Select activities you know you will enjoy. Some individuals like to go to a gym and do a structured workout, while others enjoy a neighbourhood walking club.
Determine your participation style
Would you prefer taking a class or going solo? Are you a morning or night person? Does indoor fitness appeal to you, or would you prefer to play outside? Could you dedicate large blocks of time to physical activity or could you fit only shorter, more frequent intervals into your schedule? Be realistic about how you participate.
Many people are eager to get started and sometimes overdo it, which usually makes them sore and can make them want to stop. Start out slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.
Make a date
Find a buddy to exercise with you and keep you motivated. Whether it’s a friend to walk with in your neighbourhood or a personal trainer in a gym, that appointment makes it more likely you’ll do the walk or workout.
Set specific short- and long-term goals
Make goals as specific as possible. For example, On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I will do a brisk, 10-minute walk in the morning before my shower, at lunch time and after dinner. Being specific means you are planning for activity in your day and making it a priority. Long-term goals are also important. Is there an activity you would like to do that you feel physically incapable of at the moment, but may be able to do with a little effort? Set a long-term goal to help you do it.
Make a list
List the benefits you expect from your physical activity program, then make sure these are realistic and reasonable. Try to make the benefits about things you can control, rather than an outcome (such as weight).
Invest in your health
Do you want to spend money on joining a program? Or would you prefer to develop a program you can do for little cost? Both options are available.
Do your own house and garden work – it all counts!
Create a support network
Tell friends and family about your new goals and ask for their support and encouragement. Involving others often helps us to keep our commitments.
Know your challenges
List things that keep you from being active and come up with a solution for each. Recognise that challenges can be overcome.
Wear the right shoes
Foot comfort and support is important for all impact physical activities. If you have arthritis, diabetes or orthopedic problems, you can remain physically active with the help of appropriate shoes.
Participate in events
Once you’re more physically active, set a goal to participate in an event such as a fun run/walk or Master’s sport. Ask a friend to be your exercise and event partner.
If it hurts, don’t do it
Work around pain, not through it.
Do some balance exercises, as well as strength exercises
Make your car work for you
Park at the outer edges of the grocery store parking lot, rather than looking for the space closest to the door. Walk up the first flight of stairs in a high-rise, rather than waiting for the elevator. Add another floor every week. Walk to the grocery store or other services when possible.
Once you’ve reached your goal, treat yourself to something that reminds you what a good job you’ve done and encourages you to continue. Make it something that feeds your spirit, but is not necessarily food or an expensive purchase.
Like brushing your teeth, make exercise part of your daily life.
*Information kindly supplied by the ICAA website http://www.icaa.cc (opens new window)