When we think of the golden years, we typically think about taking it easy. After all, a life of hard work and sacrifice deserves a leisurely retirement; However, the seniors that find the best and longest lasting enjoyment of the golden years are the ones who accept and invite exercise into their daily routines.
Exercise for the older adult can range from competition sports like tennis and golf, to much more moderate activities like walking and water aerobics. No matter what your persuasion, the activity should be both enjoyable and somewhat challenging. Things like age, disability, and prior exercise experience matter in what is appropriate for each individual's skill and ability. Some older adults have minimal experience in sports or hitting the gym, while some have extensive experience and may even continue to pursue their bodybuilding passion, like this 80 year old woman who still competes! No matter what your level of activity, one thing can help ensure making a standard in your life: exercising with a friend.
A new study from the University of Aberdeen shows that those who exercise with a buddy are more likely to stick with a fitness regimen, as well as more likely to push themselves further during the exercise than those who workout alone. The key to this seems to be that each participant feels a duty that surpasses just the self, but extends to their friend, making them more likely to feel motivated to continue exercising.
Exercising with others also has a crucial social component, something that tends to lack in the golden years. The comradery from social exercise helps aging adults feel a part of something bigger than themselves, which has big implications in both longevity and quality of life.
For many, simply doing one walk a day is enough to keep the blood flowing and spirits up, especially when done with a friend. In certain regions, the colder months can prohibit this activity, which just might spur some spontaneity in trying something new. Depending on the area, you might be surprised just how many options there are for the aging adult to stay active. Some fitness and senior centers host things from adult Yoga classes to water aerobics, both of which are geared to be light, yet still a challenge. Trying something new with a friend makes it easier and more fun for anyone, making it a good strategy for the older adult.
Melva Sherwood, RN