Some people are active or play sports well into middle age, so continuing past age 60 is simply staying the course. But for others, inspiration to get moving is the first hurdle. Our experts offer the following ideas.
- Consider the why before the how. Be mindful of your reasons for moving, advises geriatric psychiatrist Ramesh Sairam, MD. “Reflect on what your goals are for this stage of your life: It’s good to say, ‘I’m doing this for a positive reason,’ as opposed to, ‘I’m doing this to stave off something.’” Mentally, being active every day to fend off muscle loss is much harder than working out to maintain strength and improve mobility. “A positive motivation will keep pulling you in the right direction — it has to have meaning and purpose.”
- Think beyond traditional exercise. There are many ways to be active. “Exercise doesn’t have to be structured. It could be in the form of gardening, hiking, dancing, playing sports, or other everyday chores you do,” says physiologist Anoop T. Balachandran, PhD. (For more on the many activity options, see “6 Steps to Create a Fitness Routine You’ll Love“.)
- Start slow. “Always move up gradually in intensity and duration: This will prevent injuries — and you may enjoy the activity more this way,” advises Balachandran.
- Find an exercise partner. “The best motivator I’ve seen is a training partner,” says elite triathlon and cycling coach Joe Friel, author of more than a dozen books, including Fast After 50 and the Training Bible series. “Agreeing to meet someone for a workout or exercise session on a regular schedule is very effective.”
- Have fun! “Enjoy whatever you do,” says Balachandran. “If you don’t, find an activity that you do enjoy. What we clearly know is that most people start exercising but stop within a few months because they don’t enjoy what they’re doing.”
- Think long term. “Make health a gift to yourself,” advises Joan MacDonald, a 70 year old fitness influencer. Look up great workouts and recipes, nurture your mindset, and give yourself some accountability. “Over time, if you keep it up you will see a change. Seeing the change will inspire you to keep going.”
This was excerpted from “Fit for the Ages” which was published in the November 2021 issue of Experience Life magazine.