We all know the benefits of exercise, especially for seniors. It not only helps you live longer, but more importantly, it helps you live better. But despite all of our best efforts, we tend to exercise in spurts. The good news is, recent research has shown a new way to exercise over the long term.
While much has been made of different ways to motivate us to exercise, famed behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman recently said people would likely exercise more if we focused less on incentives and more on reducing barriers to exercise.
Here are some of the more common barriers to seniors exercising and what you can do about it:
1. The Gym Costs Too Much
First of all, who says you need a gym to exercise. Some of the best exercises for seniors don't require a gym. Whether you want to walk, squat, dance, do the plank, jumping jacks or a single leg stand - a gym membership is not required. If you like the idea of a gym, many offer senior discounts and some senior community centers offer access to their gym for free!
2. I Don't Have The Energy
You're not training for the Olympics. Even if you only do 10 minutes of activity to start you may feel more energetic. Give it a shot and see how you feel before and after.
3. I Lose Interest
We all get bored if we do the same thing over and over again. Who says you have to do the same exercise twice? Go dancing one night, a walk the next day, tennis, swimming, golf, yoga, gardening and/or do some exercises at home. Change it up. Stay active with a friend if that helps.
4. I Don't Feel Safe Because of My Health
Speak to your doctor and get the green light to exercise. See if he/she puts any restrictions on you. If you're afraid to exercise alone in the event of an accident or medical emergency do your activities in a public setting (go for a walk in the mall or on a busy street), bring a mobile phone or wear a medical alert device.
5. I'm Embarrassed
We get it. Mirrors aren't exactly our friends these days. Nor do we need to let the world in on our little secret that we're severely out of shape. Fine. Exercise at home until you see some improvement. Wear conservative clothing. Better yet, join a program at your local community center, church or residence - chances are you'll find yourself with a bunch of pears in similar shape, size and form to you. Embrace yourself and be proud for taking a huge step to improving your health!
6. It Messes With My Hair!
Yes it's important to look "marvelous"! However, hair is not the only part of your body that can help you look fabulous. If you want the rest of your body, not to mention carrying yourself with a spring in your step and radiant energy, you're going to have to get active. Talk to your stylist about getting a style for active adults (pony tails are super sexy on older adults). If that's out of the question, do your more active exercises (swimming, biking with a helmet) the morning of your hair appointment.
7. I Really Don't Like Sweating
Not everyone likes a good shvitz. Do your exercises early in the morning or in the evening when it's a little cooler and the sun is down. Or, find an air conditioned environment for your walk - like a gym or a shopping mall. Play tennis indoors instead of out.
8. I Don't Have The Time
Like we said above, if you start with just 10 minutes of exercise a day, you should notice a difference. If some of the busiest CEO's and heads of State can find 30 minutes a day for exercise while running countries and corporations, surely we can find 10 minutes?
Instead of focusing on how to reward yourself for exercising, try to remove the barriers to exercise. Ask yourself what gets in the way, despite your best intentions and see what you can do to eliminate the barrier. Exercising is key to reducing falls, avoiding disease and staying healthy and independent. Here are a few of the hurdles we see popping up and some of our solutions, but you may have your own barrier and solution. Don't give up, you got this!