Not everyone feels energised by the word “exercise”. If your parents do not have the habit of exercising regularly in their earlier years, getting them to start having an active lifestyle when they are more advanced in age can be doubly hard. They may feel less confident physically or are more wary of injuries and pains.

Walking is an Easy Exercise

One exercise which you can encourage your parents to start with is walking. Walking is an easy physical activity they can do anywhere — around the neighbourhood, in shopping malls or parks, and at any time. They can also take short walks of 10 to 30 minutes each time to keep fit.

If you have difficulty nudging your parents to walk or adopt an active lifestyle, here are some ways you can get them on their feet and into active ageing.

Related: 7 Easy Exercises to an Active Lifestyle

10 Tips to Get Your Parents Out Walking

1. “Grandpa, let’s go to the playground!”

Walking exercises are easy.

Most grandparents have a soft spot for their grandchildren. Arrange for them to walk the kids between home and school, or let the grandparents bring them to the beach or playground. They get to bond with the grandchildren and increase their level of physical activity in the process.

Related: Granny, Let’s Do These Exercises for the Elderly Together

2. "Mum, do you mind helping me run some errands?”

Create more opportunities to step out of the house by getting your parents to help run basic household errands, such as making trips to the post office, florist shops or picking up some groceries. Stepping out of the house helps increase opportunities for physical activity.

Related: Step Up and Enjoy the Benefits of Brisk Walking

3. “Look, you can plant your own vegetables!”

Gardening is a suitable physical activity in seniors

Community gardens and farms have sprung up around HDB precincts and in some condominiums. There are even creative farmers planting herbs and vegetables along HDB corridors. You can encourage your parents to do some gardening which involves tending to plants daily and walking more often. Gardening is a wonderful physical activity for active ageing. Moving around the garden, squatting, shovelling, pulling weeds, raking – these repetitive motions of gardening work your heart rate and can improve your flexibility and muscle health over time.

Related: Harness the Goodness of Fruit and Vegetables

4. “Let’s go to the market!”

Shopping is a simple walking exercise.

Making a trip to the market can be an effective way to get moving. Instead of driving to do the groceries, consider bringing along a trolley to help ease the load as you take a walk home from the market. 

Related: How To Get Fit Fast At Home: Play Video Games!

5. “This course looks interesting!”

Encourage your parents to refresh their hobbies or pick up new ones as part of active ageing. To help them overcome the inertia, you can help them source and sign up for courses. Having a structured programme to attend means making regular trips and moving more on those days. Adding activity is one way to get your parents to have a more active lifestyle.

Related: 4 Ways to Stay Fit Without a Gym Membership

6. “Time for a family outing!”

Keep fit with a family workout

Ask the grandparents along on field trips when you bring your kids to the zoo, parks or museums. The activities and sights at each venue translate into a good walk and increased physical activity for everyone. Alternatively, help them sign up for walking tours organised by community centres or Residents’ Committees which bring them around Singapore’s places of interest.

Related: Building Strong Family Ties

7. “Happy birthday, Dad! Here’s your annual membership card!”

If you buy gifts for your parents, think of how your presents can lead to new experiences and a higher physical activity level. How about getting your parents memberships to places of interest such as Gardens by the Bay, Sentosa or the Jurong Bird Park to encourage them to have a more active lifestyle? With more time on their hands, they are more likely to make full use of these cards (“don’t waste!”) and get that much-needed exercise.

Related: Sleep well, live better

8. “Look, this organisation’s looking for volunteers!”

Find an organisation and cause that matches the interests and values of your folks and encourage them to sign up as volunteers. For example, they can read stories to children at public libraries, help out at animal shelters or be guides at museums. There’s bound to be an area where they can contribute, keep fit and stay active at the same time.

Related: Being a Helping Hand

9. "Do you know there is an interest group in our neighbourhood?”

Join an activity group for a more active lifestyle

Keep a lookout for activity groups organised by community clubs, Residents’ Committees or exercise groups in neighbourhood parks and beaches. If you see a Taiji group practising at the beach or a brisk walking crowd at the park, just ask any of its members for information. You can also encourage them to sign up for HPB’s free community physical activity classes here!

10. “Grandma, do you mind taking the puppy for a walk?”

Walking the dog can be a great walking exercise for keeping fit.

If your elderly folks are pet lovers, spending time with animals is also a great way to lead an active lifestyle. For example, both granny and doggie can get their needed strolls together or go on pet events such as picnics or carnivals.

Related: Active Ageing: Rewire After You Retire

Walk for Fun, Family and Fulfilment

If your parents prefer a sedentary lifestyle at home, give them more reasons to put on their walking shoes beyond the word “exercise”. They are more likely to do so for fun, family, and fulfilment. You just have to take time to find out what works.

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