SILVER SPRING, MD—Frigid winter months can make those enthusiastic New Year’s resolutions to get in shape seem like a distant memory. But with the right mindset, those fitness promises are the most manageable to keep, states Tracy Fowlkes. She serves as a Wellness Coordinator and Certified Personal Trainer at Riderwood, the Erickson Living retirement community in Silver Spring, MD.
“There are many perceived obstacles to beginning a fitness regimen ranging from a lack of motivation, long-term physical inactivity, fear of learning the exercise equipment and even social isolationism,” stated Ms. Fowlkes. “However, there are simple ways to overcome these hurdles.”
Ms. Fowlkes, a certified personal trainer via the American Aerobics Association International/International Sports Medicine Association, recommends that individuals should check with a physician prior to beginning any exercise program. Once approved, start first by simply focusing on improving your mood, energy and stress levels, rather than weight loss which can take longer to achieve.
The next step is to set short-term goals that can help older adults feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence while keeping them motivated to strive for the long-term. Individuals should start slow and work their way up to an exercise routine that is appropriate and manageable. If need be, try spacing workouts in ten-minute increments twice per day for at least three to four days a week, noted Ms. Fowlkes.
Hitting the proverbial wall is a challenge to many, as the same exercise routine can become redundant. “It’s important to view exercise as dynamic. Changing routines and trying new classes and exercise equipment make workouts interesting,” she stated.
Residents at Riderwood enjoy a variety of cardio and strength equipment in two fitness centers with five on-site trainers. There is also a robust schedule of group classes ranging from chair aerobics to balance, flexibility and body sculpting. Additionally, Riderwood partners with Prince George’s Community College to provide yoga, gentle Pilates, tai chi and arthritis classes.
Keep motivated by inviting a friend to join you in a group class, a fitness center workout or a simple walk. The key is to find an activity that you both enjoy while providing socialization and accountability. “Inform your trainer or workout partner if something is not working or your routine is becoming redundant,” recommended Ms. Fowlkes. “You want your exercise program to be a challenge with attainable goals.”
The benefits of a comprehensive health and wellness routine are well-known for older adults: better health, a reduction in chronic diseases, cognitive improvement and greater flexibility, mobility and balance.
“Our team sees it on a daily basis at Riderwood,” noted Ms. Fowlkes. “Whether it’s a simple walking routine, chair aerobics class or a Nu Step session, fitness is the fuel to an active lifestyle.”