At times when we are able to overcome our own plateau’s, get back into our fitness lifestyles, achieve some kind of success in our goals, we, as the caring and selfless creatures that we are, want to spread that good-will around. We proceed to consult and advise our best friends, our coworkers, our siblings and the best of us will share this knowledge with our parents. And why shouldn’t we? We care about them, we care about their well being, it is our duty to help our parents in any and every way we can.
Having said that, try to realize that at times we can go overboard with this energy, so much so, that to an elderly person might be put off by the idea.
We need to curb our enthusiasm… Your parents do not need to know about training in heart rate zones, lactate thresholds, anaerobic vs aerobic and HIIT training. Of course if your parents are legitimately interested, by all means but most parents tend not to be. As long as you have gone through a few steps to encourage your parents ie. Using the formula in my previous blog…
1) Set the Mood
2) Creating Trust
…Then everything you do beyond this should be a bonus.
You are NOT going to get your way every time, so don’t be too insistent.
Re-evaluate previous encounters and really be self aware.There are many reoccurring patterns in our own behavior the best thing you can do is notice and tweak yourself as opposed to your parents.
According the the guidelines provided by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology the Goal for adults 50 plus is 150 minutes of moderate to vigourous activity in 10 minute bouts per week.
This may seem a lot and believe me it is even for 20-30 year old’s but it is attainable. The key to achieving this goal for someone in their 50′s 60′s or 70′s plus starts with Mood and Trust.
When it comes to physical activity for most of us who live a sedentary lifestyle i.e. Sitting in front of the computer, TV or else… The motto is “bite sized pieces!”
A little at a time. Early bird catches the worm… and so on.
The 150 minutes recommendation or 15 “bouts” of 10 minutes is a very tall task for anybody. As cliche as it sounds, this has to become a lifestyle choice and not an unrealistic P90x transformation as advertised.
Consistency really holds true for seniors especially when it comes to older adults. The best thing to do is try to get them to go to the gym daily even if it is not to workout, simply get dressed go to the gym and come back. For older adults and senior’s this is half the battle won.
To get someone to try something new is not always easy. Especially if its something that is physically strenuous. If twenty-somethings’ have a difficult time going to the gym these days so would older adults. Always start by setting the mood.
- Asking them how their day is…
- Making them feel appreciated and talking to them about things they like to discuss.
Yes, even if it means talking about when you’re going to get a “real” job… or when you’re going to finish school, or get married, or divorce that woman who’s “so wrong for you”… just bear it. The conversation has to start somewhere.
- Get your parents a glass of water. Older adults are more susceptible to dehydration. According to the Mayo Clinic
“…as you age you body’s ability to conserve water is reduced your thirst sense becomes less acute and you’re less able to respond to temperature changes.”
- Get them some fruit – to boost their blood sugar. Or alternatives if they have any issues with fruit.
For older men, testosterone levels are drastically lower. Coupled with a bad diet and sedentary lifestyle this could result in drastic changes in a man’s willingness to do repetitive physical activity like running or walking. Note: If you father does have low testosterone start by doing a though check up, know that there are a number of therapy’s out there, but I would strongly discourage chemical and synthetic treatments prior to an effective change in diet and exercise.
Similarly older women who do not take care of themselves through regular diet and exercise often find themselves having mood swings over an above what their natural biological symtoms might be causing.
From my experience if you are trying to get your parents to exercise, its going to be quite difficult getting them there.
Here are some common excuses:
- “Its been a long day, I’m beat!”
- “I’ll do it on the weekend”
- and the classic! “Do you know how old I am!”
A related problem is, parents often do not like to take instructions, especially from their children. This change of roles can often be stressful for older adults who are accustom to being the boss at home. Note: This can be a far greater problem for some if your parents are or have been bossed around by someone at their respective jobs.
Don’t take it personally if you are shot down once or twice (or in my case on a weekly basis) but keep smiling keep on truckin’.Swallow your pride, reset and try some peaceful rebuttals for your own situation. Remember that you will get another chance and leave off on a positive note.
I have done my own (very biased and unscientific) statistical analysis and concluded that I have a close to 75% success rate on the weeks that I ask my parents to exercise and a close to 5-10% chance of them going to the gym if I don’t talk to them about it. So there..
In the next post I will try and suggest a general exercise program for an older adult both on a micro and macrocycle.
This blog is for those of you, like myself, who is trying to get their folks in shape,
Since I do plenty of research on fitness for seniors, I’m going to share all my finding with you free of cost. Hopefully, some of your folks are interested in looking at the facts behind getting in shape and you can use that as a motivating factor to get them going.
I will not be responsible for any of the exercises you participate in, please use this simply as a resource for sound advice and not as gospel for a once size fix all situation.
Having said that. Thank you and keep reading, your support will keep me motivated and enthusiastic about helping my folks who I love dearly.