We know the importance of exercise for our loved ones with PWS (as well as caregivers if you read last month’s blog on Exercise, Movement, and Mental Health). There are many ways people with PWS can move their bodies to experience the benefits of exercise. Still, sometimes, we have to get creative to get our loved ones moving. People with PWS often need external motivation to get them active. So, how do we motivate our loved ones to get moving?
Help them determine an appropriate goal
Like all of us, our loved ones want to feel they have control. Determining their own fitness goal and how they will achieve it can help them feel more responsible for reaching that goal. You can help them decide on a goal they are inspired to meet and figure out the steps they should take to meet that goal. Help them choose one that you know is achievable. Not something so easy they don’t have to work for it, but a goal you know they can reach. Consider breaking a larger goal down into smaller goals for more immediate results.
Our Walk a Mile in their Genes advocacy fundraiser is now in full swing. Families have made pages, written their stories, and are collecting donations. (If you haven’t started your fundraising page, it’s not too late! Follow this link to do so.) One of the great elements of this fundraiser is the fitness tracker. It allows participants to track walking, running, biking, or swimming by mileage, time, and elevation. Creating a goal and seeing the miles accumulate on screen can be a big motivator for some people with or without PWS.
If seeing a tally on the screen is not enough motivation for your loved one, try something more tangible. A simple sticker chart can show the achievements they’ve made toward their goal. Try a reward system. After collecting a certain number of stickers, they get something special, like a trip to the movies or a date with a parent or friend.
Listening to books is a favored activity in some households and could be used as motivation. If your loved one enjoys listening to stories, then create the expectation that they can listen with headphones while they walk, whether on a trail, on a treadmill, or around the neighborhood. If an Audible subscription is out of your budget, download the Libby app for an online library of free text and audiobooks. Perhaps your loved one prefers music and simply needs to create a fun and inspiring playlist on Spotify.
Cute and Cuddly Motivators
Dogs are also great motivators for individuals with or without PWS. If you have a family dog that loves to take a stroll and isn’t too difficult to handle on a leash for the individual, let your loved one know how important it is for the pet to get regular exercise. Be clear on what a big responsibility it is to walk the dog and how important it is they walk regularly.
Having a schedule and knowing the expectations is essential for so many of our loved ones with PWS. Work with them to create a schedule that gets them moving. Let their inclination towards external motivation be a factor and generate a tally and reward system they appreciate and want to work with. Your family could create a page for our Walk A Mile fundraiser and watch your miles of walking, running, biking, or swimming add up and raise money to help the advocacy efforts of PWSA and families all around the country. Most importantly, find a movement activity your loved one enjoys and help them stay motivated to continue moving.