No one is too old to get in shape! Research shows that as we age, exercise can help our bodies avoid common health problems like weight gain, illness, insomnia, balance issues, and memory loss. Training is a critically important component of aging life, but it’s also an incredibly complex topic. Many loved ones have physical impairments that prevent them from being able to exercise as they once did, still, there are ways for older adults to incorporate exercise into their daily routine successfully.
There are many ways we can help our loved ones stay fit at home by engaging in safe, fun exercise plans.
Setting Up Your Loved One for Success
Setting up a home gym for an older adult can be a snap with the right equipment.
- Provide a loved one with an extra-thick yoga mat for extra cushioning and support.
- Install grab bars around the gym space to help prevent falls.
- Make sure the exercise area for a loved one is well-lit.
- Invest in some age-friendly gym equipment. Adaptive grip weights can be more comfortable for people who have arthritis.
Getting Started with Exercise
The first step to a new exercise plan is always the hardest. Help a loved one start their exercise journey with a few simple steps.
- Make sure they have a pair of sturdy, non-slip exercise shoes so they can move around safely.
- Create a pre-and post-workout ritual with them to help them warm up and cool down. This will ensure their body adjusts gradually to the increased heart rate and blood flow.
- Consult with their doctor to learn more about what exercises might be most appropriate for them.
- Start slow. Incorporate exercise gradually into a loved one’s life. Try starting by exercising two days a week for shorter periods and work up to more frequent, lasting workouts.
How to Start Now
Aging parents exercising at home may struggle to pick the right workout routine for their needs. We can work closely with our elderly parent to develop a program that is right for them.
- Ask them what activities they enjoy doing and try to incorporate these into their workouts. Some older adults find dance to be an enjoyable way to get in their exercise.
- Engage your parents with low-impact workouts. Yoga and Tai Chi are popular choices, but some families even choose to invest in a recumbent bike.
- If a family member has mobility impairments, try a seated workout.
- Schedule a variety of exercises throughout the week. This will work on different parts of their body to keep them healthier.
Staying Motivated to Exercise
Older adults aren’t an exception to the rule – everyone struggles to stay motivated when working out at home. Simple changes we make to our loved ones’ schedules and routines can help motivate them to keep exercising.
- Offer to exercise with an older parent, so they have someone to help hold them accountable.
- Incentivize workouts by creating rewards and goals that have meaning. Maybe a week’s worth of successful workouts earns a day at the movies?
- Try enrolling in a silver exercise class at the local YMCA or gym. This can increase engagement in their exercise program.