Building Physical Literacy as an Older Adult
Although the term physical literacy sounds complex, it really is a simple concept. Physical literacy is all about developing the basic movement skills (known as fundamental movement skills) needed to be active for life! By developing and mastering fundamental movement skills – such as running, jumping, hopping, throwing and catching – early in life, children are more likely to have the confidence and ability to lead healthy and active lifestyles. What people often forget is that physical literacy is a lifelong journey. As we age, we need to adapt, learn new movement skills and potentially
transition to different activities to maintain and build our physical literacy. Here are six ways you can build your physical literacy as an older adult:
- Try Activities with your Family – Throw a ball around or take a swimming lesson with your child or grandchild! Not only are you helping them build their confidence and abilities in different environments, you might also brush up on some of your movement skills along the way.
- Take a Dip – A low impact activity like water aerobics is great for improving balance, flexibility and strength – all important components to staying physically literate!
- Walk it Out – Go for a walk around the block a few times a week. Try walking with a friend or neighbour, listening to a podcast, or chatting on the phone while you walk. You could even join an urban poling or mall walking group!
- Try Yoga at Home – Light, restorative yoga is a great way to maintain and build physical literacy. You can find a variety of yoga resources online that are designed for all ability levels!
- Take up a Favourite Sport Again – Maybe it’s been years since you last picked up your tennis racquet or baseball glove, but give it a go! You might surpriseyourself with what you remember or how much joy the activity brings you.
- Find a Workout Buddy – Working on your movement skills may be easier with a friend by your side to motivate you. Connect with someone who is also committed to improving their physical literacy and help keep each other inspired. You could try joining a dance class or a new fitness program together!
While articles about physical literacy are often geared towards children and youth, building physical literacy is an ongoing process. Working on physical literacy later in life can help you maintain independence, improve your fitness and mobility, maintain bone health and help you feel better all around. We encourage you to give some of these ideas a try!
To learn more about the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines for Older Adults, check out this link: https://participaction.cdn.prismic.io/participaction%2F6b7f3961-0dd1-431e-9832-fbd23e8eb314_participaction-canadian-physical-activity-guidelines-older-adult.pdf
- Whitehead, M.E. (Ed.) (2010). Physical Literacy: Throughout the Lifecourse. London: Routledge
- Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, https://www.nbphysicalliteracy.ca/2018/11/participaction-canadian-physical-activity-guidelines-for-older-adults/
- Physical Literacy for the Older Adult https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Abstract/2019/04000/Physical_Literacy_for_the_Older_Adult.12.aspx