Obstacles to participating in physical activity
The British scientific journal Age and Aging recently revealed that although older citizens are well aware of how beneficial physical activity can be for their health, many of them do not participate in physical activities because of the obstacles they encounter. This article will look at these obstacles and propose some measures you and your organization can take to get older people back into beneficial physical exercise.
1. Lack of interest
This was by a long way the most commonly cited obstacle. To overcome this, older clients should be given the opportunity to scrutinize all the options available to them. Will they feel more comfortable in a class, or would they like to exercise alone? Do they have more energy in the morning or nighttime? Would they like to exercise inside, or in the fresh air? Do they have significant stretches of time to devote to exercise, or would exercising in shorter blocks of time but more frequently be more convenient? What are they looking to achieve?
Both young people and older people generally get enjoyment from things in which they are interested, that they find fun, sociable, or that helps them meet a target. Offering older people a choice is an effective way of overcoming a lack of interest.
2. Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath can be caused by a number of health problems, although it may also be caused by simple lack of fitness. Discuss with your client’s healthcare provider whether there are any special considerations you should take into account when designing an exercise program; have the program approved by a physician when appropriate. Let your clients know that all of them can do something that will improve their health, however small.
3. Joint pain
The Arthritis Foundation states that individuals with arthritis can reap many benefits from a program of regular moderate exercise. Through exercise, your clients will experience increased endurance and flexibility, build up the muscles around the joints, and mitigate stiffness and joint pain.
4. “I’m not fit enough”
You need to educate your clients and make sure they know you’re not expecting marathons from the outset. Something as simple as a 5 to 10 minutes walk three times a day after meals is a good start. Resistance training should begin with just one or two exercises and expand over time. Clients who feel they are being overworked will not return. Emphasize the fact that you are going for long-term success and explain how fitness levels and exercise tolerance will improve with time.
5. Lack of energy
Many older people suffer from a lack of energy, but it is frequently due to a lack of exercise and can be reversed. The interactions of a number of prescription drugs may also be a contributing factor. To resolve this problem, find out why clients are lacking in energy and show them how they will be more energized if they take exercise. In many cases exercise could actually save them money by reducing the number of prescription drugs required.
6. Doubts about exercise lengthening life
Question your older clients about their quality of life. Can they do everything they want to? Demonstrate how the quality of life will be improved through exercise, no matter what their age or potential life term. Exercise provides them with the capability to age as they wish.
What are you doing to remove the obstacles that prevent your older clients from participating in exercise?