Fitness After 50: What if you hate exercise?
Contrary to cultural opinion, it’s okay if you don’t want to exercise.
When Olivia Newton John suddenly showed up with a short haircut, headband and those goofy shorts, suggesting that we all “Get Physical,” not everyone got on board. Some of us, in fact, were so repulsed by the whole new “aerobics movement” that we ran as fast as we could in the other direction, bought a pack of smokes and never looked back.
Problems don’t manifest when you decide not to exercise. Problems begin when you don’t want to move at all … when the thought of getting in shape seems like such a daunting task, you’d rather give up trying altogether. Well, this article is for you.
Aging people who are grieving, hormonally imbalanced, in pain, depressed or overweight suffer more than the rest of the population may realize. The mojo stops working, the plumbing backs up, the noggin fills up with cobwebs, the family jewels lose their sparkle, and it just plumb sucks. Someone you love might be gently nudging you to join a gym, but to you, it’s just another insurmountable task.
I know how you feel. Just as a house cleaner doesn’t always feel like cleaning up his/her house after a hard day’s work, so too, a personal trainer doesn’t always feel like staying in the gym one more hour to do his/her workout. Not everyone likes to “move it, move it.” So, for those of you who can’t bear the thought of exercising, here are some ideas that may help inspire you to get off your duff.
First: PLAY. Take up an instrument. It’s never too late. I personally decided to learn to play drums (at the tender age of 57) and it was the best thing I could have done for my coordination, concentration, mind-muscle connection and mood. You can pick up a used drum kit for around $250, or you can buy an easier, lightweight electronic drum set that will sit on your lap for around the same price. If drums aren’t your thing, try a wind or string instrument. Maybe learn to sing. My dad re-learned the sax at 80 years old. Playing music is great for your cardiovascular development and mental state of mind. You can even learn to play or sing while bedridden. There are teachers who will travel to your home via Taylor Robinson Music or Thumbtack. My 67 year-old drum teacher is on Thumbtack. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of free instructional videos on Patreon or You Tube. All you have to do is DO IT.
Second: DANCE. Couch-bound, wheelchair-bound or bedridden people have no excuse. If you can move your feet, arms, and/or torso, you can indeed dance. Don’t let your physical or mental limitations keep you from enjoying the pleasures of moving to music. There are ways to dance no matter what state you’re in. If you’ve packed your tunes away because you don’t have the full capacity to move, bring them back out and rediscover your love of music. Just a half hour of slight movement per day is enough to chemically release what your body needs to improve function. There are dance instructors or personal trainers who will come to your home and teach you how to dance without ever having to stand up.
Third: SHOP N’ STUFF. For those of you who love to walk but feel vulnerable outdoors, why not hit the mall or the public library? You don’t need money to window shop, plus it’ll keep you current on the latest fashions and technology. Think of it as education. The public library is chock full of free resources, including hands-on tech and computer classes for seniors. If you venture out for an hour a day, you can consider yourself having done the exercise minimum, and you may even make a new friend.
Fourth: LET NATURE TRAIN YOU. My 72 year-old client and his wife go on nature trips that would put any gym hound to shame. It’s not uncommon for him to announce somewhere in the middle of his workout that he went kayaking for three hours just two days ago. I think he uses the gym to relax after his nature excursions! They hike up mountains, tube down rivers, set up camp and rough it. That’s their idea of relaxing. In his world, gyms are just day-to-day diversions from the real stuff. If you love getting pummeled by nature as much as they do, then take the money you would have spent on a gym membership and personal trainer (around $450.00 a month average) and get out of dodge!
Fifth: PAINT, ACT, GET ARTSY! It’s no secret that Colorado Springs is also a wellspring for the senior arts. There are painting groups, sketching clubs, jewelry and pottery classes, senior acting groups, singing groups and all sorts of artistic endeavors that will help you develop talents you never knew you had! There are galleries in Manitou Springs that will showcase your art and help you sell your pieces. Speaking of acting, my mother-in-law became an extra in movies sometime in her 60’s. She’s been in more than a dozen major films and TV commercials! As an extra, sometimes you have to stand around all day and you may not get picked, but at least you’re out and about, and you may get a free meal out of the deal!
GET YOUR MOJO WORKING: So, in the immortal words of Olivia Newton John, “Let’s Get Physical!” It doesn’t need to be in a gym, and you don’t even have to wear goofy shorts and a headband. Try one of these outside-the-box ideas and lo and behold – maybe your mojo will get a second life.
Vicki Morgan CPT ACTION is a Senior Strength & Fitness Instructor at Flex Gym and Fitness. You can reach her at 719-445-8566 or visit seniorstrength.pro. Remember to consult a physician before beginning any diet or exercise program. If you experience pain or difficulty, stop and consult your healthcare provider. This article is not meant to take the place of any treatment or activity your physician has deemed necessary.