How to Encourage Aging Parents to Exercise

by Barry Hill
A group of people running towards the camera

Exercise is key to living a long and healthy life, and if your aging parents are currently in less than great shape, it may be up to you to encourage them to turn things around. Many seniors struggle to get fit after long periods of inactivity, but these six tips will help you cheer them on.

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 a “Why”

For some people, just regaining control of their health is reason enough; for others, being able to play an active role in their grandchildren’s lives may carry more weight. Think about what’s most important to your parents, and explain how exercise can help them get there. Focusing on what they want to achieve — the reason why they’re exercising in the first place — will give your parents more incentive to keep going.

3. 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 such as 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.

4. Help Them Get Started

 

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Great morning, great cause! #uccstrong

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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 Dad the support needed to succeed! Depending on your parent’s personality, giving them some ideas that you have researched may help more (Fit After Fifty has lots, by the way), or they may prefer to educate themselves.

[Related: Starting to Exercise After Age 50]

5. Support Their Efforts, No Matter How Great (or Small)

 

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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) or grandkids may be just the motivation they need.

[Related: 5 Easy Exercises to Do While Playing in the Park with Grandkids]

6. Set Milestones and Goals, and Celebrate With Them

 

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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 parents about what they hope to achieve from a fitness regimen, help them set goals, and then celebrate with them when they reach or pass those goals.

Have you successfully gotten your parents to start exercising? What worked for you? Share your tips with us and the rest of the Fit After Fifty community!

 

Featured image via Pixabay

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