One of the great challenges of being physically active is staying motivated. When it’s too hot or too cold outside or you’re not in the mood, it’s all too easy to put off your activity for another day. So, how do you keep going and even challenge yourself to do more?
For many people, a desire to stay healthy and independent is an important motivator. Ron’s family history of heart disease and high cholesterol convinced him to be more active. “I got a step counter and started walking briskly in my neighborhood. I feel like I’m doing something to improve my health, and I always come home with more energy for the rest of my day.”
Making exercise a regular part of daily life helps many older adults keep their commitment to being active. Their advice is to:
- Make it a priority. Think of your time to exercise as a special appointment.
- Make it easy. Put weights next to your chair so you can lift while watching TV, or join a gym that’s on your route to work.
- Make it fun and social. Do more of the activities you already like and know how to do. Join an exercise class or exercise with a buddy.
Once you start exercising regularly, your body will get used to a higher level of activity. To prevent boredom and help you build up the benefits:
- Add new physical activities that challenge you.
- If you can, do your activities longer, further, or harder. Walk a longer distance. Shift from walking to jogging. Use heavier weights or a stronger resistance band.
“I’m not going to say I don’t struggle with motivation from time to time,” says Beverly, age 70, “but the friends I’ve made in my water aerobics class remind me how fun exercise can be.”