The obesity rate is continuing to rise, with over 26.5% of Canadians having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Obesity, and the sedentary lifestyle are dangerous for people of all age groups, particularly for seniors, since these conditions are related to a higher risk of heart disease and specific types of cancer.

Often, what stops seniors from staying fit and heading to the gym is a lack of motivation; especially on colder days, it can be tempting to snuggle up by the fireplace, or catch your favourite show on the television, but this comes with dire consequences for health! Follow these tips if you can’t seem to find your fitness mojo:

Personal Training: Because No Human Being is an Island

If staying fit is hard for you, negotiating a gym or formulating a workout routine can seem like the land of the lost. If you are over 65 years old or battling health conditions, you might also wonder about the level and type of exercise that is best indicated to your individual circumstances.

Canada’s Physical Activity Guidelines recommends that seniors take part in around 2.5 hours of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week, spreading out activities into bursts of 10 minutes or more. They also recommend muscle and bone strengthening activities, to keep falls and bone fragility (osteoporosis) at bay. If you are worried that weights will make you bulk up, you don’t need to.

Building muscle by following a dedicated program set by your personal trainer will make you leaner and help define your body, while helping you stay slim. Muscle burns significantly more calories than fat, but it also strengthens bones by stimulating bone formation.

The recommendations are only the minimum, of course; a personal trainer will not only tailor your weights and cardio workouts to your specific needs, but add important elements into fitness, including balance and coordination, which are also crucial for preventing falls and injuries.

Battling Boredom through Variety

When you exercise on your own, you can sometimes fall into the trap of always doing the same things the same way. Try to introduce greater variety into your cycling, running, or swimming routine by jazzing it up with variation .

Fun ways to do so include using upbeat music to boost your performance, doing interval training (which involves working extra hard for a few minutes then recovering for various cycles), or taking your workout to a different setting.

For instance, your cardio might consist of an aerobics class in the gym every day. Why not take it outside, enjoying a brisk walk in the park, or an invigorating mountain trek, suitable to your fitness level? What most people don’t know is that you burn more calories outdoors, and that Nature has a unique ability to lower levels of stress hormones that contribute to anxiety and depression!

If you always do step aerobics, why not get your heart rate up in other ways in staying fit, perhaps by dancing or signing up for a Zumba class?

If you have been under stress, have you thought about the benefits that yoga or Tai Chi can bring into your life?

Competition is the Spice of Life

A personal trainer will challenge you to push your limits safely, while an exercise buddy will provide motivation you need to get out of bed on a chilly morning, and challenge your body and mind to enter ‘the Zone’. A little help from your friends will certainly go a long way in terms of increasing accountability and commitment, so it is always a good idea to embrace the social aspects of sports and exercise.

Motivation, far from being a fickle muse that visits you unexpectedly, is something you have to work hard at for the rest of your life. The rewards, which include better physical and mental health, a better night’s sleep and an improved mood, are more than worth it, so start downloading your favourite music, consider heading for a beautiful natural setting, and remember that variety is the spice of life!

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