Have you always been active or were you prescribed exercise as part of your treatment management? If not, what were your initial thoughts, did you want to exercise?
By the time I retired 11 years ago my activity levels had dropped right down – just a little bit of daily cycling and the occasional walk in the bush.
The motivation that had kept me going back to one commercial gym after another had evaporated.
My retirement triggered a review of this situation. I thought that the ageing process might be slowed if i could commit to more physical activity. But how could I boost my activity levels? I decided I would join a bushwalking club, give up my car and cycle more. I soon discovered that the bad veins, the bad knee and the bad foot had other ideas.
How did you feel when you started to exercise, what differents did you start to notice for both your physical and mental health?
I started at the Seniors Gym in Lilyfield 4 years ago and I clearly remember my first day there. I had a long meeting with my EP where we talked about all my health issues as well as my personal goals including regular bushwalking and using the bicycle to get around instead of the car. Supplemented by public transport and a commercial car share company. Then she did an initial physical assessment of my current fitness to get a baseline for gauging future progress. Sit-to-stand, hand grip strength, balance, 6 minute walk and BMI. It was very comprehensive and gave me a lot of confidence that I was in good hands. My EP set up my initial program and explained what each exercise was designed to do and how it dovetailed with my needs. I knew that I would be reassessed after my initial exercise program of 8 weeks. And that was a great motivator. She was able to point out where my results fitted within percentile rankings of people my age and I could see that I was not as unfit as I had imagined. This was also very motivating. Also each exercise in my program had a path of progression and a goal, for example, I started leg presses at a training weight of 195 and progressed to 234 units – a 20% increase. I was elated.
I knew one of the biggest challenges for me was just to keep coming to the gym. We set a target of 2 visits a week and I was pretty pleased with myself when I achieved close to that target. But even more of a boost was the outcome of the follow up assessment at the end of the initial program where I scored some modest increases in aerobic fitness, strength and balance.
The key factors for me in maintaining motivation have always been:
- Professional assessment and exercise programming
- Realtime access to professional advice so change program where issues arise
- A clear understanding of what I want to achieve and how to achieve it
- Measurable, realistic goals and indicators of fitness that can be monitored over time
- Access to good quality advice and health information that complements the program