It’s that time again when we make our new year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, right? For some older adults those resolutions may include losing weight, volunteering, participating in more social activities, or getting fit. General fitness always seems to make the list of most popular resolutions. Too often however, getting those resolutions to stick is the hardest part.
According to the American Psychological Association (apa.org, 2014), if you are trying to incorporate healthy behavior into your daily lifestyle such as becoming more physically active, you should start small and get support. An example of this may be scheduling exercise on two or three days per week. Set a time for the activity just as you would for a doctor appointment and treat your exercise commitment the same way. Your support system may include joining an exercise class or exercising with a friend. Barriers that may prevent you from fulfilling your goal include busy schedules, weather, and lack of proper planning. As you can see in our previous example, if you set a schedule, some of these barriers are eliminated. If you exercise with a friend, or make a friend at your exercise group, you are less likely to let your friend down by not showing up.
There are many long-lasting benefits to physical fitness according to Live2BHealthy (live2bhealthy.com, 2014) which is an organization that leads exercise groups for older adults. Regular participation has been shown to improve balance, strength, and flexibility. By improving upon these items, older adults can prolong their independence and mobility. Other benefits of regular physical activity include improved circulation, lower blood pressure, improved sleep, increased energy, decreased joint pain, and improved cognitive skills. According to the Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org, 2014), “regular physical exercise may be a beneficial strategy to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.” The increased oxygen and blood flow within the brain occurs with exercise. Further, the exercise does not even need to be strenuous or time consuming. The important factor is that the exercise occurs regularly.
Finally, state your resolution out loud. Tell your friends about it. When we state our intentions out loud and to others, we increase the probability of following through. Friends and family are more apt to support you if they are aware of your goals and you will feel a sense of accountability.
Information provided by Pam Elbert, Edencrest.