Time to stop talking & just do it!
by Sandra J. Hartley, MPE, EdD
Be honest. We all talk ourselves in and out of things. This “self-talk” is part of our psyche’s motivation system. But when it comes to getting more physically active, it may be best to stop listening to your inner voice and “just do it.”
Research on the self-talk of older women found that unmotivated people self-talk a lot, and talk themselves into doing nothing. They say things like:
“I am too old to be more active.”
“I am too weak to lift weights.”
“I am too unsteady to do balance exercises.”
Not so! Active older women give this advice: try some different things and find out what you want to do. Then get on with it. Don’t think about it lest you talk yourself out of it!
You are never too old to benefit from simple home exercises or a refreshing walk. If your muscles are wimpy, some 1-2 pound weights could change your abilities enormously! If you are getting stiff or unsteady, then you will be amazed what can do in even one session of moving your body.
Some inactive older women say they can’t afford the classes or equipment. But staying active reduces the costs of health care in the long run and keeps you independent.
Some women feel strange about building their muscles. But from age 30-80, we women lose about 50% of our muscle strength! It’s worth the effort to keep building those muscles as we age.
Stop listening to the negative self-talk and start acting on your positive ideas about doing something active, interesting and fun. For instance, if you’re thinking, “I wonder if my neighbour would go for a walk tonight?” — don’t wonder anymore. Grab your jacket and knock on her door. And don’t listen to her excuses either!
About the Author
Sandra J. Hartley is Professor Emeritus, Researcher in Exercise Motivation and Gerontology, University of Alberta, and Life member of Active Aging Canada.
Staying active over 55 – What are the barriers for women?
by Shelley Callaghan, (formerly) CAAWS
What stops women from getting exercise as they get older? And how do women get over these barriers? To better understand this, the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) conducted cross- Canada focus groups with women age 55 to 70.
We grouped the barriers that the women talked about into three categories:
- External barriers – things that are beyond our control
- Impacting barriers – things that impact your ability to participate
- Internal barriers or secrets
External barriers included things like:
- weather (too hot or too cold, too icy, too humid)
- lack of transportation
- cost of physical activities
- the ‘built environment’ – for instance, lack of sidewalks.
Impacting barriers included things like:
- poor health
- the demands of caring for partners, grandchildren, and aging parents
- not having a friend to do things with or finding it hard to fit into a ‘cliquish’ group
- poor instructors
- lack of variety – for instance, wanting to swim or cycle but only walking programs are available
- scheduling problems – for instance, no evening programs for working women
- lack of support from a partner or other family members.
- taking part in something with the word ‘senior’ or ‘older adult’ attached. Many women said they are seniors if there is a discount, but otherwise — forget it!
Internal barriers included things like body image. Women said they would like to swim, but the idea of putting on a bathing suit kept them from doing so. Feeling guilty was another internal barrier. Women felt guilty about taking time for themselves, spending money on themselves and being away from family duties. Women also worried about getting hurt or lacking skills. Many women over 55 say they feel ‘invisible’ and lack the confidence to ask questions and be self-starters.
Getting over the barriers
The women in the focus groups had a number of ideas on how to deal with the barriers and get more active:
Develop a routine: Schedule physical activity into your day or week and never miss it.
Having a buddy: Having someone to do things with is encouraging. Plus, if you know someone is waiting, say, to go for a walk or run with you, you will make sure to show up.
Invite and get invited: Women like to be invited to do things. Make physical activity special by personally inviting your friends to take part. Be sure to accept any invitation you receive.
Use a pedometer: Using a pedometer to count your steps was mentioned in every focus group. Women saw this as an easy, inexpensive tool that regularly reminded them to keep moving.
Take part in events: Sign up for a competition or event – for example, a run or walk for your favourite charity. You will get active preparing for the day and enjoy looking forward to it. Plus, you’ll raise money for a good cause.
Keep a log or journal: Some women found it very motivating to keeping a daily journal or log their activities on a calendar or in a notebook. They ‘made appointments with themselves’ that they did not want to break. They hated not being able to write something in for the day, and that kept them moving.
Enjoy music: Many women found it motivating to have good music in the background when doing housework or during a fitness class.
Look for progress: Seeing progress in yourself and others is very motivating, no matter how you measure it. It could be losing weight, sleeping better, or being able to shovel your driveway.
Share your success: Many women do not realize how much physical activity can improve their health. Share your own stories or the stories of other women to motivate them.
In the end, women told us that the activity really doesn’t matter. As long as it is fun, inexpensive, and social, they will give it a try. The problem is they often do not know what’s out there. Take a wander down to your local community centre, check out a new fountain in the local park, or try out that bike trail you’ve always wanted to explore … just get out there and don’t forget to bring a friend or two!
About the Author
Shelley Callaghan, Project Manager, Women 55-70+ Project
Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity