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 Chicago physical therapist Marc Gregory Guillen.
“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 Guillen, owner of Free Body Physical Therapy & Wellness in East Humboldt Park / Wicker Park. “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,” Guillen added.
Such support can come in several ways. Guillen 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.