As a kid, exercise was child’s play – freeze tag, kick the can, playing baseball in the field with friends. Staying fit was easy, and we didn’t have to think about it.
As a practicing emergency medicine physician, I see patients daily who might not be in the emergency department if they had continued to exercise regularly. Yet, as people age it seems they are more reluctant to exercise despite a desire to be healthy enough to travel, garden, play with the grandkids, or live a longer, independent life.
It is the start of a new year and fitness resolutions are made. Yet, about 8% of those who make resolutions actually keep them. Here are some things I’ve learned in working with active adults that may help you start and maintain an ongoing exercise program:
Assess and Accept
Ask yourself what you truly want to be able to do and how you want to feel as you age. For example, do you want to enjoy injury free golf or tennis, recovery quickly from an injury or have more energy and strength for caregiving? Once you know how you want to live, accept that consistent, guided exercise is vital to this lifestyle.
Before beginning or restarting an exercise program obtain clearance from your physician. It is important to share any restrictions with your personal trainer.
Committing to a program with a friend, a spouse or personal trainer helps keep you on track and makes it fun. Without accountability, research shows gym visits become less frequent and ultimately stop.
Many adults don’t know what specifically to do in a gym and therefore avoid joining. Even if you frequent a gym, at fifty-five or better your needs are different than when you were younger.
Exercises you once relied on may not be appropriate for you.
Whether you are a beginner or someone returning to a regular exercise program, remember to take into account any injuries, medical conditions or even inflexibility. A professional, personal trainer has the experience, knowledge and expertise to ensure your workout is safe and appropriate.
Individuals who stick with their exercise program also find they enjoy going to their gym. Every gym has a unique atmosphere and culture. When visiting, note how you are greeted. Do you hear laughter or words of encouragement? Does the staff call members by their names? Is the music appropriate and the facility clean? If you find a place you enjoy, it is likely you will attend more often because you feel comfortable.
Finally, decide today that you deserve to be physically able to live the active lifestyle you desire. You don’t need to go it alone. Professional, qualified personal trainers are waiting to guide, support and encourage you on your fitness journey.
Founder and Medical Director
Motion 4 Life Fitness
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