5 Ways to Encourage Aging Parents to Exercise

by Barry Hill
5 Ways to Encourage Aging Parents to Exercise

My parents are both just slightly past 50 years old, and each of them is reasonably focused on their fitness. Mom tends to hike with her friends consistently, and although Dad is recovering from a sports injury at the moment, he is still in love with basketball and plans to play into his 80s.

I consider myself pretty lucky to have parents who know how important fitness is to their health as they age, and through on that knowledge with action. But I know there are plenty of people out there who are worried about their aging parents’ current health, and fear for their health and quality of life in later years if nothing changes.

Fit After Fifty is a movement that is focused on inspiring and encouraging individuals who are 50 and older to get or stay fit, so that they can enjoy a better life for many years to come.

  1. Start from a place of love. No matter what shape your parent is in, they are unlikely to receive any fitness encouragement that comes across as negative toward their current state or how they got there. Be sure to express that you love them and really want them to enjoy a fantastic quality of life for many, many years to come.
  2. Give them tools. If your parents are receptive to education, do some research on the benefits of fitness for aging adults. Connect them with like-minded communities like Fit After Fifty, and make sure they know they aren’t alone in what may be uncomfortable territory for them. Plus, Mom and Dad may not know about the technology out there that supports and facilitates a healthy lifestyle – hook them up! Another way to help is to share what you’ve learned in your own journey toward better fitness and health.
  3. Help them get started. Setting up a fitness plan after many years of no exercise (or minimal, sporadic workouts) is difficult and can be quite intimidating. Give Mom and/or Dad the support needed to succeed! Depending on your parent’s personality, it may help them more to give them some ideas that you have researched (there are lots here on FitAfterFifty.com, by the way), or they may prefer to educate themselves.
  4. Support their efforts, no matter how great (or small). Few people, if any, flourish in something difficult without positive reinforcement. As long as it doesn’t come across as nagging, ask them questions along the way about how they’re doing. Have you tried suggesting that you exercise together? Time spent hiking with their kids (now adults) and/or grandkids may be just the motivation they need.
  5. Set milestones and goals, and celebrate with them. Positive verbal encouragement is one thing, but when your parent feels like you’re as excited about their achievements as they are, it can go so much further! Listen to your Mom or Dad about what they hope to achieve from a fitness regimen, and celebrate with them when they reach or pass their goals.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com.

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