Health & Wellness March 1st, 2014

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Staying motivated is key to keeping in shape

Erin Billowits launched Vintage Fitness to get people over age 50 energized with physical activity.

Since 2005 Billowits and a group of older adult fitness specialists, including several trainers focused on midtown Toronto neighbourhoods, have provided group exercise classes, personal training and a range of workshops on topics such as fall prevention and staying active.

Here, she reveals some tips to help older adults stay motivated about exercising, and ways for adult children to get their elderly parents into fitness.

Stay motivated

For older adults and seniors interested in becoming and staying active, set goals and keep track of progress to maintain motivation along the way.

“Change your program and type of exercise to keep interested and keep your body challenged,” says Billowits, who has been training older adults for more than 10 years and teaching group exercise classes for about 20.

Plan ahead and schedule exercise times into a calendar or tech gadget so that working out becomes part of the weekly plan, she advises. In case of bad weather, it’s a good idea to have options on hand for indoor workout activities.

Staying accountable by telling a friend about personal goals and fitness plans can help with staying motivated and developing the routine of working out.

“Book in a coffee with them when you hope to complete your goals, to update them on your progress,” she says.

Link exercise to something important or personal, like a dream vacation.

“If you are exercising because you feel like you should or your doctor told you it was a good idea, that may not be enough motivation on those tough days,” she says.

Instead, Billowits recommends people think of goals that being more fit can help them achieve, such as climbing stairs or that adventurous holiday getaway.

“If you link your exercise with something that is near and dear to your heart it will keep you motivated even on the hardest days,” she stresses.

Tips to get your parents into fitness

For adults looking to get elderly parents started on the path to exercise, Billowits suggests broaching the topic lightly.

“None of us like to be preached at or made to feel badly about our lack of motivation around exercise,” she points out. “Work with your mom and dad to create activity goals together.”

Making exercise something the whole family can engage in, such as bringing grandkids along for a walk with their grandparents, is a fun way to transition into working out.

For those needing a bigger push, providing fitness classes or personal training sessions as a gift for a parent can help get them to develop new exercise habits, Billowits says.

Visit vintagefitness.ca/healthy-wellness-toolkit.aspx for exercises designed for older adults to try in the comfort of home