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A Good Habit Missing for Most Older Adults

Even among those older adults who dodged COVID, “gymnesia” may be a lingering effect.  Please let me explain…

What business has more facilities than McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell combined, and saw almost universal closings during the pandemic?  And what business saw far fewer clients returning than McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Taco Bell combined as the pandemic restrictions have begun to relax?

The answer may not come as much of surprise since even I have been holding back from going back to the fitness center for my daily caloric burn.  There are over 32,000 fitness centers across America, and a lot of them continue to remain shuttered in this phase of the pandemic that some are beginning to call the “post-pandemic.”  Almost all of these facilities have gone to extraordinary lengths to make their establishments cleaner (air and contact surfaces) and safer than ever before, but some folks, especially older clients, are hesitant to get back into their routines.  It’s time to get back into shape, and here are some tips for the older adults in your circle:

Safety check.  You can call or email any of these facilities, and when you do be prepared with some important questions.  How often and how extensively do they clean equipment and locker rooms?  Ask about how they have upgraded their ventilation systems.  Then go on-line and see how they compare to what is recommended by public health experts.

Getting there.  The average person travels 2.6 miles for their fast food favorite and 3.8 miles for their groceries.  No surprise, then, that most people will travel less that four miles to work out.  Go ahead and Google: “fitness center near me,” and you’ll probably be surprised how many spas, gyms or workout facilities are within four miles.

Walk through.  Of course, you won’t sign up without a visit to see what a facility looks like close-up…and yes, walk through their locker rooms as well.  Really key, however, is when to schedule your visit.  Set a time that matches when you like to work out so that you can see exactly what you will experience if you sign the contract.

Partner Up.  This is not about safety and the importance to not go to the facility alone.  Find a friend or encourage your spouse who will buddy up with you for your regular workouts.  It’s nice to use the guilt of not wanting to leave our work out buddy all alone to get us to make the trip each day that we have committed.

How much.  There are some spectacular palaces to body fitness, and they may be right for you.  Yet, if you’re just a yoga type or a Pilates junky, a smaller venue is more than adequate.  Some of you may still want to work from the safety of home; then, consider a trainer, even if it’s only once a week to hit the rest button to keep you at it.

I personally like the machines that tell me how many calories I burn with each workout, and my phone has an app that helps as well.  It’s a built-in reward for all the sweat, and it does feel a lot better.  And as my workout partner says, “The shower is the best part.”

Charlotte Bishop is a Caregiver Coach, an Aging Life Care Advisor, a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.


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