Updated: Jul 4
While there is no other nondrug prescription that has as many benefits for
health as physical activity the reality is that the majority of us aren’t as
physically active as we could be. As the title of this post asks: What stops
us from doing what we know is good for us?!
There are several studies about physical activity in retirement. For the most
part they highlight that people continue with activities they started before
retirement. However, if we haven’t been physically active before retiring,
what can help us to get started after retiring?
Answers to this question were provided in a study by Canadian researchers
who looked at factors impacting people’s experiences of physically active
leisure in the transition to retirement. There were three key ideas that
reflected their study participants’ ideas about the role of physically active
leisure in their lives:
1. Structure and Spontaneity: While the retirees in this study talked about
the importance of having some level of structure in their days (e.g., daily
routines) they also mentioned how important it was to slow down from the
rushed and schedule-driven lifestyle they had while working. One person
described why she decided to quit participating in an aquafit class: ‘That
early morning, rushing out the door, I’m not interested in ever doing that
again.’ While some people reported that they needed the structure of a
class to motivate them, others wanted to find activities that they could do
spontaneously, such as biking around their local park.
2. Responding to New Constraints: Several study participants reported
health-related concerns that made regularly engaging in physical activities
challenging. However, rather than stopping, most looked for activities that
would provide them with the same benefits (e.g., being in nature) but didn’t
present the same kinds of physical challenges. They also tried out
strategies to overcome constraints (e.g., using walking poles, take frequent
breaks) or adjusted priorities. One strategy was to increasingly value their
health and use this as a motivator to be physically active.
3. Physical Activity as More Than Exercise: Choosing physical activities
that were fun or enjoyable and that met important needs were the biggest
motivators for study participants. One participant was reported to say: ‘I
don’t enjoy exercise at all! I find it more torture…My form of exercise is
more working or doing yard work and stuff. I enjoy that more.’ The
importance of the socializing was also emphasized, as well as activities
that would provide multiple benefits at the same time. For example, one
person posted that she chose walking to relieve stress, get exercise and
enjoy the outdoors.
What Can You Take From This?
If you aren’t sure what you could be doing to build more physically active
fun into your life you might want to complete the ‘Interests Inventory’
available on The Retired You website under the Tools link [link here].
Tips: If you want to get more physically active and have been struggling to
do so, here’s some ideas to consider:
Create a weekly schedule for yourself that includes different types of
physical activity. Remember, every little step or move matters!
Choose activities that are important to you and find ways to make them enjoyable and fun.
Look for the benefits available to you from these activities (e.g., accomplishment, stress relief). Use these as motivators for taking action.
Check out available online or virtual physical activity programs that you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Find spaces or programs that provide you the supports you need; especially important are programs or places where opportunities for social interaction are possible.