We’ve heard of Spring Training for those who follow baseball teams like the CUBS or the SOX, and we all know that it is easier to get out and about once the weather moderates as it does in Spring. But this season, it is more like coming out of a yearlong hibernation. So, what can you encourage your older loved one to do to emerge from their quarantine and into better condition than when they entered the safety of quarantine more than a year ago?
Exercise* is not work…it’s a workout, so it’s important to find something you like. I find it is also important to have a workout buddy and to have two people’s motivation instead of just your own. Here are some suggestions for your older loved one…or for you:
- Swimming – is the ultimate no impact activity and also aerobic. You can mix it up with water aerobics or even water sports if you can get a team together.
- Yoga – is another of those activities that encourages strength training as well as a bonus in the form of mental and physical relaxation. I would add that it gets your loved one’s nimble back by getting groups of muscles working together in new ways.
- Machine exercise – comes in a number of types depending on your older loved one’s appetite for work. It can be a bicycle without a risk of a fall, a rowing machine without the risk of capsizing or any number of takes on walking or jogging.
- Weight or resistance training – weight-training should be done with a trainer or at least a spotter. Resistance training using elastic bands of a variety of tensions is so basic your older loved one can throw their “training equipment” in a suitcase for travel.
- Walking – starts when infants take their first step, but so many older adults lapse into sedentary habits. Sitting, experts say, is the new smoking; it kills. So set a goal with your older loved one; 10,000 steps a day is the recommended minimum, and there are apps for a phone that make it easy to keep track.
- “Other” – there are countless ways to stay in motion. Some combine elements in more than one of the above or some are simply organized into dance or other motion classes that make the buddy system a great way to find enjoyment as well as support for anyone who understands the value of staying in motion.
I started out by talking about how you can be the motivator to your older loved one’s activities. Well, you can also be the role model. Encourage them to go to the pool with you, work on a machine with you or just walk somewhere with you. You’ll find that they are very motivated by the offer of time with you, and the rest takes care of you both.
*Check with your older loved one’s physician before starting any new exercise regimen.
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.