Exercise is important at every age, including into older age. If your aging relative isn’t currently exercising, it’s important that you help them to get started. The first step, of course, is to see their doctor to ensure they are healthy enough to exercise. Once they have been cleared to exercise, it’s time to get started.
While you might think the older adult is resisting exercising because they simply don’t want to or don’t like exercising, the real problem may be fear. Below are some common fears about exercising that older adults have and how they can get over them.
#1: Fear of Knowing Where to Start
Seniors who haven’t exercised in years may feel overwhelmed by the very idea of it. They may not know what kind of exercise to do or how to get started. Experts say the best way to get over that fear is to find a form of exercise they find enjoyable. If your aging relative enjoys socializing with others, group activities might be best. They might join a class at an exercise facility or gather a group of friends to play tennis with. If a lighter form of exercise is less intimidating, they might go for walks around the neighborhood with a friend or their dog. Even gardening can be a great source of exercise.
#2: Fear of Being Too Old for Exercise
No one is too old for exercise. Health can improve at any age with exercise. No matter how old your aging relative is, it’s not too late. To convince them of this fact, you might provide them with information about some older athletes, like:
- Sister Madonna Buder who, at age 86, is the oldest person to finish an Ironman Triathlon in under 17 hours.
- Tao Porchon-Lynch, a 98 year old yoga guru who still holds workshops all over the country.
- Yuichiro Miura, age 83, who is the oldest person ever to have climbed Mount Everest.
#3: Fear of Falling
Being afraid of falling while exercising is perhaps at the top of the list for fears about exercising. It’s not an unfounded fear since age does increase the risk of falling. However, not exercising does, too. Older adults who feel uncomfortable walking outside because of uneven surfaces might do better on a smooth track at a gym, at a mall, or even inside their own home. Some seniors might feel more comfortable using a stationary bicycle for exercise. Another great way to exercise when falling is a fear is by doing it in water. Try signing them up for a water aerobics class or just to swim laps in a pool.
A senior care provider can also help your aging relative to get over their fears about exercising. Sometimes what the older adult needs is to have someone they trust present while they exercise, like a senior care provider. Knowing that the senior care provider is there to help if they should injure themselves or have a medical emergency can make older adults more comfortable exercising.