Article The dirty half dozen – which of these 6 barriers are stopping you?
The dirty half dozen
I’ve identified 6 factors that get in the way of over 50s sustaining regular exercise habits.
And I’m calling them the dirty half dozen.
Which of these 6 barriers are stopping you?
Things that come up in conversation
Various things come up when I’m talking to people about exercise or in general conversation when people ask me what I do, and I tell them I’m a personal trainer.
Many people will refer to their weight with commentary along the lines of needing to do something about it.
So, one of the first things I need to address is the fact that exercise does not help with weight loss.
I discussed this in a previous blog post. Here is the link if you missed it 😊
Weight loss aside, people know that exercise is important for health and wellbeing but many struggle and have concerns with it.
The top 6 issues I’ve identified
The message I hope to convey here is one of empathy.
I truly understand the issues that can get in the way of exercise, especially for us over 50s.
Read all about them and let me know which ones resonate with you.
I’d love to know if what gets in your way isn’t covered here, too.
1. The activities you enjoy are harder to do
Have you recently struggled to do something you love and used to do with ease?
Are you finding it harder to move your body to do everyday things like putting on shoes or getting down on the floor, and back up again?
Do you wake up stiff and sore or feel like you’re losing strength?
If you’re biologically female, the transition to menopause will be making things harder.
Maybe you’re keen to keep living life to the full, but you feel like the march of time is inevitable and you have to reign it in.
We may need to approach exercise differently, but we don’t have to reign it in and it’s more important than ever that we don’t.
It’s true that advancing age is associated with degeneration in certain areas, but this does not have to stop us from doing stuff we love to do.
The physical decline we may have witnessed in our parents is not inevitable.
It’s in our power to stay healthy and mobile, keep doing the things we love and enjoy top quality of life for longer.
We can, in fact, be over 50 and better than ever!
2. You know you should exercise but feel like you can’t find the time
Knowing the benefits of exercise doesn’t mean we can just get it done. Life is busy!
Our 50s is the time in our lives when we have the most responsibility we’ve ever had – in both career and personal life.
The kids may be less dependent, but our grandchildren and aging parents may need more of our time and care.
How on earth are we to squeeze exercise in?
Especially when it seems like an onerous commitment of time is required.
Reorganising life to fit exercise in is complicated, but it happens organically once we can make ourselves a priority.
You matter and you can make time for exercise.
The great news is that you can get started with just a few minutes a day.
Check out my daily warm up which is a great way to start the day and begin increasing physical activity.
Even a small amount of physical activity with help you feel better and you will naturally want to build it up from there.
3. You get tired and feel like you don’t have the energy to exercise
You work hard and a lot of your energy goes into being great at what you do.
Then there are all the commitments to family, friends, community, and interests.
‘Where on earth am I supposed to get the energy needed for exercise on top of everything I already do?’
This is a great question, and the answer may seem counterintuitive.
Exercise requires effort and energy, but it can help with tiredness. How can this be?
Exercise is known to help improve sleep quality, which can help with energy levels.
It makes sense that engaging in physical activity makes the body tired and more amenable to the restful state of sleeping.
The weird part is how expending some energy can make us feel like we’ve got more energy.
This works in two ways for me. I always feel better, like I’ve got plenty of energy, after exercise.
Sometimes I need to dig deep and find something in reserve to get started, but I always feel better afterwards.
Being a regular exerciser means that the good feelings pervade my life and I feel better more often.
I know being tired is a barrier to exercise, but exercise is also a powerful antidote to feeling tired.
4. You prefer to play sport and don’t see the point of other types of exercise
For many of you, physical activity throughout your life has taken the form of a team or individual sport.
The focus is competition or just enjoyment and being part of a community.
There is a point to the activity.
The idea of going to a gym, lifting weights or engaging in group exercise activities is weird and pointless to you.
As a complete wannabe when it comes to sport, I have the utmost respect for you.
All physical activity is good, so keep going.
My only caveat is for you to consider the critical importance of the strength aspect of fitness as we move into our 50s.
I wrote about this previously and you can check it out here if you missed it.
Ensure you are getting some form of resistance training if it doesn’t happen in your sport.
Specific exercises can even help you improve your strength/power and endurance for your favourite sport and add to the enjoyment.
5. You’re starting to feel niggles and don’t come back to your peak from injuries
This one really resonates with me. My niggle is osteoarthritis.
A few years ago I had a hip flare up just a few weeks before departing on a trip involving an 8-day hike across England along Hadrian’s wall path.
There was no way I could cancel that highly anticipated trip, so I had some treatment that enabled me to get through it with no worries.
For acute niggles like this, I recommend consulting an appropriate health professional for a diagnosis and treatment to help you get through.
Who you consult depends on the problem, but a sports physician, physio or podiatrist (if the problem is with your feet) are likely ones.
The diagnosis part is critical so you know exactly the origin of your niggle.
After the acute problem settles, then it’s time for rehab. Again, with guidance from a health professional.
I’ve had great results consulting a physio for rehab from various niggles.
The key is GRADUAL progression. I was able to get back to regular running after my nasty hip osteoarthritis flare up.
I can keep running because of the strength I maintain through resistance training. Running also helps me manage my osteoarthritis by conditioning my joints.
I highly recommend consulting a physio or other appropriate health professional for your niggles/injuries.
The key message here is that niggles and injuries can be managed with exercise, they should not stop us being active.
6. Self-care is a low priority in your life of competing demands
I totally get that you are responsible for other people.
Concern about elderly parents is a very common topic of conversation for us over 50s.
This is very cliché, but you need to care for yourself so you can look after those who need you.
Think about the consequences for your loved ones if you succumbed to a preventable illness.
Also, a commitment to regular exercise can give you a much-needed time out from your demands and stressors.
Exercise is a great stress reliever and could even help you better cope with your demanding life.
For me, exercise is absolutely self-care – physical, mental and emotional.
Do any/all of these apply to you?
If you think I’ve hit the nail on the head with these, I’d love to hear from you.
You should also get in touch if there is something I’ve missed.
I really want to understand all the barriers or issues with exercise experienced by people approaching or over 50.
The more I know the more I can help 😊
Keep in touch
Please reach out to me if anything in this article resonates with you.
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect via social media.
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