We’re closing in on a new year, and we all realize what that means: time to declare your resolutions! If you’re similar to most people, you’ll begin with the best of intentions. But as the days go by and life gets busier, you will probably find your resolve diminishing until you have lost your determination to accomplish that goal altogether.
This year, why not try something a little different? Sit down with a senior loved one, and come up with a New Year’s resolution you can keep together! Healthy routines are much simpler to keep when you’ve got an accountability partner.
A highly beneficial habit for older adults is to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. Exercise gives seniors a boost in lots of ways:
- Improved flexibility and balance
- Enhanced mental health
- Strengthened muscles, heart, and lungs
- And increased self-reliance, just to name a few
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans advise at least 2½ hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises for older adults, as well as balance/strengthening exercises. Before starting a new exercise program, older adults should first seek advice from their doctors and find out about any restrictions to follow. Then, get started with these guidelines:
Start slowly. If a loved one has led a less active life recently, it’s important to take it easy and slowly work up to the desired activity level. Not only can injury develop by diving in too fast to a fitness program, but it can quickly become discouraging.
Be goal-oriented. Goals should be both specific and attainable. Examples include:
- Short-term goals:
- Today: Determine what type of exercise to begin with.
- Tomorrow: Look into local exercise class programs – at the gym, YMCA, senior center, etc. If an at-home exercise program is preferred or more appropriate, find a web-based program to follow. (Remember: just committing to a consistent walk in the park or around the neighborhood is perfectly fine too!)
- By the end of this week: Obtain any necessary gear: shoes, bathing suit, comfortable clothing, handheld weights, etc.
- Long-range goals:
- In half a year, I will have a healthier BMI and blood pressure level.
- By springtime, I will be in a position to walk through the zoo with the grandchildren.
- This time next year, I will be swimming five laps in the pool, five days a week.
Track progress. Keeping track of your progress towards these goals provides great motivation to keep going! Find a Monthly Progress Test here, together with other helpful tools to ensure success.
Celebrate! Working towards achieving goals with the senior means you can also celebrate together when milestones are achieved – or simply reward yourselves for taking steps to enhance your health. Plan a monthly lunch date or other enjoyable activity and have fun building experiences with each other!
If an older adult that you know is interested in some extra support and motivation to stay healthy and physically active, Hearts at Home In-Home Care’s experts in Alzheimer’s in Kansas City and nearby areas are the ideal solution! Reach out to us at 913-440-4209 to learn more about our in home care services.