Tips For Getting A Senior To Exercise

by Eric Corum

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As you age, physical activity and exercise is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.  With seniors, however, compliance to an exercise regimen can be difficult.  They may not be accustomed to exercising, they may not see what the big fuss is about, or there may even be some trepidation about trying something new.  This being the case, here are some tips for how to help get your aging loved one moving.

  • Focus on physical activity, not exercise.  What is the difference between walking on a treadmill and walking down the street?   One you likely can convince your aging loved one to do with you and the other you probably won’t.  It is often easier to get a senior to do something with you than to ask them to do something alone for their own good.  Here are some simple examples of having a senior doing something with you that is active:
    • Take them to the grocery store with you.
    • Go on an outing.  Preferably someplace where the parking lot isn’t right next to the venue and moving around is required.
    • Start a garden.  Gardening is a good activity because it often involves multiple body transitions that can work the body’s core.  Even if it is a an outdoor table garden that doesn’t require getting down on your knees, it can be good.  If nothing else, it will require the daily action of getting outside to water the plants/flowers.
  • Get a dog.  Aside from the companionship benefits of having a dog, playing with a dog can be a great form of exercise.  Sitting in the backyard and playing fetch with a dog will get the senior reaching to the dog and throwing the item to be fetched.
  • Stretch.  Stretching may be the easiest thing to convince a senior to do on their own.  One reason is because it can be done fairly easily and can make them quickly feel better.  Simple stretches like reaching with your arm in multiple directions just feels good.  Hamstring stretches can be done while they are sitting in front of the TV on their favorite chair.  All that is needed is to put one leg up on footrest and reach forward.  This is very easy and keeping limber will help reduce injuries.
  • The king of senior exercise: Dancing.  Convincing a senior to engage in some form of social dancing is probably the single best activity a senior can do.  The reason is because dancing
    • Can be aerobic
    • Is a form of balance training
    • Exercises multiple muscle groups
    • Is a social activity

Getting a senior to exercise is often times challenging.  Hopefully the tips above will help provoke some thoughts/ideas for you to get your loved one up and moving!
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