By Trena-Winans-Bagnall, Education & Community Outreach Director.
I have yet to meet anyone in my classes who does not know they are strongly advised to exercise, yet many just can’t seem to get started or maintain a strong fitness habit. Exercise is proven to improve your cardiovascular and brain health, reduce fall risk and improve your mood and sleep, so what does it take to get going?
Your first step might be to address your barriers. What is stopping you from getting started?
- Discomfort or pain: Consider talking to your doctor about aqua classes or seated exercise. Exercise actually helps reduce pain for most arthritis sufferers.
- Fear of Injury: Studies show therisks of inactivity are far greater than the risks of exercise. Sitting is dangerous to your health!
- Expense: Many fitness classes are low or no cost, or are covered by Medicare. Some gyms have scholarship funds available. Of course, walking is a great option that typically costs nothing!
- Embarrassment: Are you nervous to try something new you might not be skilled at right away? Exercise videos can be a great way to start in the comfort of your home. You can feel like you are exercising with a class full of people without any self-consciousness.
- Dislike exercise: Consider what you loved doing as a child! Can you find adult versions to enjoy?
- Time: No matter how busy you are, it is always possible to fit in fitness if you prioritize it.
Consider it one of your medications that must be taken, just like any other medications you may have. You also don’t have to wait to have a half hour at once. Exercise can be done 10 minutes at a time and sprinkled throughout your day. In fact, evidence is mounting that frequent movement is more beneficial than a single daily exercise session.
The good news is the warmer weather offers a multitude of opportunities to get outdoors for your favorite activities. What did you enjoy doing before you had to spend all your time at work? Those activities might be the perfect place to start. Just a few great options include:
- Golf: Golf is both social and active! Try walking between most holes.
- Dancing : Line-dancing, Zumba Gold, senior dances, or just dancing in your living room is fun and social!
- Biking: Remember the fun of biking as a kid? It’s still fun!
- Swimming: Aqua exercise gives a workout without straining joints and bones, plus water is relaxing.
- Hike: Hiking is free, stress relieving and rejuvenating! Bring binoculars or a camera too!
- Walk: Make it social and invite a friend!
- Racket sports: Games are so much fun; you might forget it is exercise!
- Yard Work: Gardening can be relaxing, plus you get a beautiful yard.
- Sports: Did you used to love baseball, basketball or other team sports? Look into senior teams, or call friends and set up informal games.
- Kid Stuff: Hula hooping is fun, low impact, and strengthening. You can also go to a playground, with or without kids!
- Fish or hunt: Get fresh air and movement too! Just be sure not to sit all day!
- Letterbox: This fun outdoor activity combines hiking with a treasure hunt and can be a family activity.
- Take a class: Fitness classes allow you to meet people, learn a new skill and feel revived. Tai Chi and Yoga are popular classes that increase flexibility. Having a set schedule can be a great motivator.
Good luck getting started!