Dear Donna:

My dad is on his own for the first time in his life. Since my mother passed away unexpectedly four years ago, he’s really slowed down. The two of them used to be on the go all of the time, but now he’s become very sedentary.

In the early days after we lost my Mom, I think he was struggling with depression. Now I’m concerned that he has developed some bad habits. Among them is watching too much television. He’s gained a few too many pounds as a result and I’m worried it may lead to health problems.

I am going with him to have his yearly physical next week. Before that date, I want to talk with my Dad about some senior-friendly forms of exercise he might be interested in. If I can come up with a few ideas my Dad likes, we can discuss them with his doctor during his appointment.

Do you have any suggestions for me? Other than walking, I’m not sure where to start.

Ellen in Glen Arbor, Michigan


Dear Ellen:

The situation you described is fairly common. And we know breaking bad habits isn’t always easy. Your Dad is lucky to have you in his corner!

And you are right to be concerned. A sedentary lifestyle is indeed dangerous. Newer research is actually comparing the dangers of sitting too much to the dangers associated with smoking!

Exercises for Seniors in Michigan to Try

At the Heritage Senior Communities across Michigan, we have adopted a Wellness Model that blends social and physical health services to ensure each resident lives their best life. A few suggestions that follow a similar approach to healthy living include:

  • Go4Life: The National Institute on Aging developed this fitness program exclusively for older adults. Go4Life has a variety of resources to make it easier for seniors to get started and stay motivated. From guides you can download to free workout DVDs mailed right to your home, this is a very comprehensive program.
  • Silver Sneakers: Another national program for seniors is Silver Sneakers. The organization works with health insurance companies and local fitness centers to offer free exercise classes for older adults. Check with your insurance provider to see if they are a part of the program.
  • Growing Stronger: Mounting evidence shows the important role strength training plays in preventing early mortality. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created their complimentary Growing Stronger Guide to address the issue. It is packed with tips for goal setting, a quiz to measure strength, and suggestions for staying motivated.

A couple of additional senior-friendly forms of exercise for your Dad to consider are swimming at a club like the YMCA or participating in Chair Yoga or Tai Chi at the local senior center.

I hope this gives you some ideas to help get your Dad moving again, Ellen!

Kind Regards,