One of the best ways you can help someone you love feel happy and healthy and live a longer, more enjoyable life is by encouraging them to exercise. Just like in younger people, continuing to exercise helps seniors control their weight, protect themselves from heart disease, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, increase energy, and decrease symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. Unfortunately, getting enough exercise is made even more difficult for seniors by the increased safety precautions and social distancing necessary to avoid catching and spreading the coronavirus.
If you think a senior in your life could use a little more activity in theirs, check out these tips for helping your loved one add more movement to their life while social distancing.
Talk with Your Doctor
The very first thing you and your loved one need to do is speak with their doctor, even if your loved one feels fine. If they are experiencing any pain or discomfort, you should definitely tell the doctor during your visit. Your loved one’s doctor can tell you if there are any exercises or activities your loved one should avoid, and they may also suggest additional precautions to take in order to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
Start Small with a Few Hobbies
For someone not especially interested in a fitness routine, one of the best ways to get moving is through a hobby they enjoy. Gardening, for instance, is a great way to get your heart rate up while building and maintaining muscle – and since gardening is often a solo activity, it’s also an exercise that’s easy to do while social distancing.
Just by buying and setting up a few planters, soil, and seedlings, you can help your loved one “dig in” to this great activity. Or maybe your loved one used to enjoy painting, sculpture, or woodworking. All these activities offer some amount of physical activity, and it wouldn’t be too hard to help them get started again in a small space in their home.
Increase Their Exertion
Once your loved one has a taste for a more active lifestyle, it’s time to increase their level of exertion. But that doesn’t mean they have to hit the gym and start pumping iron. There are plenty of activities that fall on the fun side while still providing physical benefits. Did your loved one used to love dancing? Encourage them to find online videos to dance along to or organize a weekly socially distanced dance group with friends in their community. Dancing is an activity people with limited mobility can enjoy too. Walking is another low-impact activity that can be quite enjoyable alone or in socially distance pairs. Or how about assembling care packages or knitting hats and booties for newborn babies?
Take Your Loved One’s Exercises to the Next Level
Is your loved one ready to graduate into a full-blown exercise routine? Start by making a list of activities that could be suitable for seniors – water aerobics, swimming, or yoga – and show it to your loved one. Ask them to pick out a few of their favorites. Some of these activities may be easy enough for your loved one to begin right away. Others will have to be worked up to, but that’s OK – it can be one of your loved one’s fitness goals! Many community centers offer ways to take part in these activities while maintaining safe distances. Search online to find one near your loved one.
Once you really start moving, the increased energy and endorphins can help you find joy in an exercise you weren’t sure you would like. So make room for your loved one to find an activity that excites them, but don’t be afraid to encourage them in ones that don’t immediately pique their interests. Whichever activities your loved one decides on, make sure they have a high-quality mask and are aware of the necessary steps to protect themself from getting or spreading COVID-19.
We hope you and your loved one can find a few ideas in this blog to help them on their way to better health. For more ideas on better aging, visit the Milestone Retirement Communities blog.