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Tips for seniors to stick with exercises at home

Thursday, 09 April 2020

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In these challenging times we all need to create a new reality or ‘new normal’ in our everyday lives. The following tips may help seniors maintain their motivation and stick with exercise routines while at home.

Keep in mind the desirable outcomes

Keep in mind what you desire from participating in exercise at home. For example, ‘to improve my balance’, ‘to maintain my level of fitness for as long as possible’, ‘to tone up’, ‘to feel better’. Keeping your focus on the positive outcomes you desire will help to maintain motivation and stickability.

Set specific goal plans

Create and plan a new specific exercise routine that works for you at home. For example, nominate a specific time each day that works for you, a space in your home to exercise, and the clothes you will wear for your exercise. Having a specific exercise plan that works for you will become routine and the new norm. Routines tend to be easier to stick to and are less cognitively demanding than having to make decisions each day about when, where, how etc to exercise.

Reward yourself

Rewarding experiences typically reinforce our motivation. For example, following your exercise activity, treat yourself to something you enjoy (such as enjoying time in the garden with a cuppa, having a telephone chat with a good friend, watching a favourite TV program). Linking your exercise plan with a pleasurable activity will help to maintain your exercise motivation. Maintenance or progress toward your desired exercise outcome (e.g., improving my balance, feeling better) also helps to reinforce your motivation and exercise pursuit.

Be adaptable and flexible

If your new exercise plan routine doesn’t quite work for you, learn from the experience rather than giving up altogether. Being adaptable and flexible will help you re-adjust or re-set your exercise plan, so it is more realistic and achievable for you. For example, having a daily exercise plan may be unrealistic for you, whereas exercising three days a week may be more feasible.

Be kind to yourself

Sometimes we may not feel we are making the progress we desire. Be kind to yourself. It will help to keep things in perspective and to keep sight of your desired exercise outcome.

Joanne Dickson
Associate Professor of Psychology
Edith Cowan University

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