The new year is here and we are considering just which
resolution goal to attempt achieve this year.
Eureka! I’ve got it!
Let’s work together to increase our physical activity so that not only will our senior loved ones be in a better state of health physically and mentally, but we family caregivers will be as well!
Boring – I can hear you say. But physical activity doesn’t have to be boring. We can make it fun and desirable.
And, hey, maybe a resolution to help someone else is one we’ll keep — and then both will benefit.
Most of us will get rewards if we increase our physical activity. However, we need to be safe when we start something new so just to be sure, talk to your doctor (and your senior’s doctor) before you begin working hard at an activity that you are not used to doing.
Depending on how active you are now and what your current medical condition might be will determine what the next step will be when becoming physically active.
Age is no excuse to stop being physically active. Actually, getting older is a good reason to get moving. Being active can reduce doctor visits, medication use and development of chronic disease.
Rewards for Increased Activity
We can reap the rewards of physical activity when we get moving. Here are some of the physical benefits we can achieve:
- Improve physical strength
- Improve balance to reduce fall risk
- Increase bone density
- Become more physically able to complete activities of daily living, maintain independence
- Improve mobility including the ability to get up and down safely, change positions or move on to a new task safely
- Reduce the likelihood of isolation and depression
- Prevent developing chronic diseases or be more able to manage the chronic disease with which you may already be diagnosed
- Make a new friend and enjoy the company of current ones
- Feel happy when you do something fun that you all enjoy
Just Get Started
You have set a goal for improving your physical activity, decided that you are able to get moving and have gotten the approval of your healthcare provider so it is time to make a plan for movement and fun.
There are any number of activities that you can do with your senior loved one to share the joy of a new experience. Setting manageable goals and staying motivated together will make it easier to succeed with this year’s resolution.
Here’s what you need to do to get started:
- Talk about what you both enjoy. How often do you want to pursue different activities-what days are best for both of you? How long can you both participate in activities to start and how will you increase the time you participate? How will you support and motivate each other positively? Would you like a contract that expresses your commitment to each other?
- You should plan to be active three or more days a week, mixing up the activities to avoid boredom. According to Go4Life from the National Institute on Aging at the NIH, try to find activities that involve endurance, balance, flexibility and strength for 150 minutes each week. Physical movement, strength training and balance exercises should all be incorporated into the weeks activities. That doesn’t mean you can be a couch potato on the other days! You should walk and keep moving every day of the week but do a specific exercise related task that gets your heart engaged on those three days.
- Plan to make it a part of your routine. When you decide that exercise and physical movement are part of the day and not just a chore you should do, you will stay motivated and engaged in doing the activity so that benefits can be achieved. Decide how you will overcome obstacles as they appear and how you plan to continue on in the face of fatigue or weather or time constraints.
- Determine if there is something that you need. Arrange all the details such as proper clothing, membership fees, equipment, and transportation and then set your schedule.
Activities with a Purpose or Just for Fun!
Some activities that you and your senior may already be participating in that keep you all moving include gardening, yard work, climbing stairs, walking the dog, raking leaves, walks, and cleaning the house.
You can also pick some less purposeful and more fun activities to increase your movement such as dancing to your favorite tunes alone or with a partner, belly dancing, exercise to a video, play a video game such as bowling or tennis, swimming, golf, bowling league, exercise class or using gym equipment, tai chi, yoga, stretching, balance training, seated exercises, weight lifting, nature walks, bike riding, water aerobics, rake leaves, pick fruit, ice skating, mall walking group, jogging, play outside games with grandkids, or exercise with resistance bands or canned foods.
To get you going here is a resource you can use every day! Order your free Go4Life Exercise DVD from the National Institute on Aging to help you and your senior loved one improve your strength, balance, flexibility and endurance.
We have known for centuries the importance of physical activity. Here’s a quote from Plato reminding us:
Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being,
while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.
And remember ~~
True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body;
the two are ever united. ~~Wilhelm von Humboldt