We typically wish for those we love to live their best, most healthful lives. That’s why it can be both frustrating and worrisome when a loved one slips onto a more sedentary lifestyle track – one that could be harmful to their long-term well-being.
You want to help them recommit to exercise and fitness, but you’re not sure exactly how to do it both lovingly and effectively.
It begins with simply starting a conversation, says Philadelphia physical therapist Chris McKenzie.
“We all want our loved ones to be around forever, so from the start, they should know you’re coming from a good place,” said McKenzie, owner of McKenzie Sports Physical Therapy in Philadelphia. “And, while health and exercise may be difficult topics to breach, the long-term benefits are worth the uncomfortable conversation.”
Such outward benefits, of course, include more energy, increased productivity, a more positive attitude and a better sense of well-being. Over the long term, regular exercise improves heart health, lowers blood pressure, helps manage weight, and reduces the risk of numerous ailments and diseases.
“Let them know you care about their long-term health and well-being, and that you’re there to support them any way you can,” McKenzie added.
Such support can come in several ways. McKenzie suggests you try the following:
Set an Example: Your concern will certainly carry more weight if you regularly exercise yourself. But beyond that, resolve to also set a new wellness goal or try a new activity. People are more likely to be active and try something new when someone close to them is doing the same.
Do Activities Together: The buddy system works. Exercising and being active together will help you both be more motivated, more willing to try new things, and develop more consistency.
Make It a Routine: Speaking of consistency, this should be part of any new effort to be more active. Creating a routine is one of the best ways to establish accountability with one another (i.e., a little positive peer pressure) and help ensure the effort is long-lasting.
Give Healthful Gifts: This can be touchy. However, if you’re both truly on board with helping one another be more active, gifts like a yoga mat, a fitness tracker, a piece of exercise equipment, or a gift certificate to try a new class or activity should be appropriate.
Just Be Supportive: Re-establishing new routines and habits is difficult, especially if your partner’s been in a rut for a long period of time. Simply offering support, encouragement, a kind word, a listening ear, or a compliment can go a long ways.
Also, if you discover pain or physical limitations are keeping your loved one from exercising or living a more active life, have him or her see a physical therapist.
Following an initial assessment, a physical therapist can uncover the cause of the limitation, then establish a personalized program for treating and/or overcoming the issue in order to help them reach their goals.