Approximate read: 3 minutes;
(Note: This blog post is part of a series of articles looking at how to motivate yourself to be active
Check out the Ultimate Guide to Goal setting for a blueprint to help you figure out how to get over your fears of becoming more active)
Are you over 50, and afraid to exercise? The more I look around me at the people who are in the 50+ age group (the population I specialize in working with), the more I see two types of people: those who just keep cruising along and doing something active all the time, and those who are too afraid to get started. So this article is for those of you who are afraid to get started. And what I want you to get from this article is that, although your fears are real, they are not insurmountable – this is something I wholeheartedly believe in. So let’s look at some of them:
You’re too embarrassed to go to the gym
Especially when you’re a little bit older, it’s very easy to feel out of place at the gym. We all know the typical gym crowd: guys who lift big, or ladies sticking to cardio machines. Oh, and everyone is younger than you, more fit than you, and look like they know exactly what they are doing. It’s enough to make anyone run for their lives – let alone someone who hasn’t stepped inside a gym in years.
There are a couple of ways you can tackle this:
- Don’t go. You don’t have to hit the gym to get a workout in. I achieved my results and lost my baby weight in my living room. From workout DVDs, to internet videos to personal trainers who come to you (such as yours truly) the gym is no longer the go-to place for workouts. You can also opt for a walk outside or join a class at the community center.
- Have a plan for when you go to the gym. The worse thing you can do is just show up because that’s when you’ll feel like a deer in the headlights. So take out a piece of paper and take 5 minutes to write down what you’re going to do: maybe you plan to spend 20min on a cardio machine, and then do some basic weight training exercises. So write that down. Now when you get to the gym, you have a purpose.
As a personal trainer, the other thing I can tell you about the gym is that, just like you, at least half the people there have no idea what they are doing. Seriously. They don’t. So keep that in mind: just because someone looks buff, doesn’t mean they know what they are doing.
Related: Structure of a workout
You think fitness is boring
When people think of “being active”, they automatically think “the gym”. The reality is that fitness can be incredibly diverse, and not everyone enjoys the same things! Here are some things you might consider trying:
- Martial arts
- Aquafit classes
- Cardio classes
- Outdoor stuff: walking, hiking, running, biking, rollerblading
- Zumba and other types of dancing
If you think fitness is boring, it just means you haven’t found that aspect of fitness that really speaks to you. Don’t be afraid to try different things to see what sticks.
You think you’re too weak and you’ll get injured
Actually, studies have shown that the risk of an older adult getting injured is the same as for younger adults. Isn’t that interesting? The difference lies in an older adult’s fear of injury (and especially falling)- which is significantly greater. Again, this is not trying to dispel your fear – I know it’s very real. And again, there are still things you can do!
The beauty of exercise is that it can be tailored to each individual person’s starting point.
The key is to start with things you can do, start small, and work your way up. And if you are worried of falling and getting injured, that is precisely why you need to start exercising NOW because you will become even weaker as you get older. Exercise builds muscle and strength, and it makes you less prone to injury. Working with a personal trainer, a kinesiologist or a physiotherapist is a great way to start, to ensure you are doing the things that are appropriate for your individual needs.
You’ve got “stuff” going on
No one hits their 50s and 60s in peak perfect health. Perhaps you’ve got a bit of excess weight, high blood pressure or diabetes, past injuries, and have had life-related shit happen to you. So your instinct is to think that there’s waaaay too much going on with you, and that you’re screwed. Not true – the only time you’re truly screwed is when you’re dead. But you’re not – so there are still things you can do!
Start with your doctor. I know – groans of excitement all around. But you have to start there – tell them you want to make some changes and they will tell you, based on your history, what steps you should take. Then, start looking around for expert help. It’s not easy to find sometimes, but there are lots of us out there who truly want to make a difference in our clients’ lives, and who truly care.
Especially if you’ve got stuff going on, getting someone to guide you is essential.
You think being active and fit means doing intense and crazy workouts
Yeah, that’s what I thought too. I thought that the only way I could see results was to work out until I was completely done. Oh, and also that if I wasn’t doing all of this, I couldn’t call myself “fit”.
Being active means moving. It also means moving every day. And if you exhaust yourself to the point where you can’t even get off the toilet because you’re so sore, how are you going to sustain your activity level in the long run? Plus, chances are you won’t be enjoying that very much, which means you are less likely to stick to your workouts in the long run
There is also more and more research suggesting that many health benefits can be achieved from moderately intense workouts – burning yourself out is totally overrated!
Now it’s your turn:
What barriers are you facing, that are preventing you from taking that leap towards becoming more active? My Ultimate Guide to Goal Setting will take you through a blueprint where you can list out your own fears and barriers to exercise, and help you brainstorm solutions:
More articles in this series: