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Get Moving! 10 Smart Activities Seniors Can Do To Keep Healthy This Winter

Colder temperatures and blustery days mean wrapping yourself in your comfy blanket and snuggling on the couch, maybe to read a good book or watch a movie and have a nice hot beverage. But what happens when you finish your tea or hot cocoa and reach the end of the book or movie?

Just because the days are shorter and it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to just chill out in your chair. In fact, staying active in the winter is super important for everyone, and especially seniors.

According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors should try to work up to 30 minutes of energetic activity each day. Four or five days a week is good, every day is best. And you don’t even have to do all 30 minutes at once, you can break up your daily activity into three 10-minute sessions per day.

Talk To Your Doctor First

If you’ve been inactive for a while, don’t just jump into 30-minute workouts. Talk to your doctor first to learn what activities are best for you to begin. Your level of daily activity is an important topic to discuss as part of your ongoing health care regimen.

And even if you already have a warm-weather routine, read on to find out how to keep up the momentum when it’s cold outside.

Look At All The Benefits Of Staying Active!

There are real rewards from keeping active year round.

  • Build up your strength. Strong muscles and bones help improve your balance so you’re less likely to fall, and help you pick up those grandkids when they visit.
  • Build up your endurance. You want to be able to have the energy to do what you enjoy without tiring out.
  • Increase your flexibility. The more flexible you are, the more independent you are. Flexibility allows you to do necessary tasks throughout the day, such as tie your own shoes.
  • Stave off poor circulation. By getting your heart pumping and your extremities moving, you can improve the circulation in your arms, hands, legs and feet.
  • Socializing. Getting together with friends or members of an exercise class can be a fun way to work out while staying connected.
  • Avoid the blues. Staying active helps more than just your body. You can stave off winter depression and improve the quality of your life by participating in activities that benefit both your muscles and your mind.


Safety First

There are a few things to remember before heading out for your favorite activity.

Take a friend or family member. Not only is there safety in numbers, you and your buddies can hold each other accountable. The more active you all are, the healthier you all will be.

Dress smartly. Bundle up to get from your house to your activity, but layer on loose, activity-appropriate clothing that won’t have you overheating once you start moving. Get completely dry before you head back out into the cold so you don’t take a chill.

Warm up wisely. Before you jump right into your fun, take some time to warm up your muscles. Walk around a bit and pump your arms before you gently stretch.

Listen to your body. Exercise shouldn’t cause pain. Stretch only to the limits of your body and don’t overextend yourself.

Breathe properly. When you’re doing strength exercises, be sure to breathe out when you lift and breathe in when you rest. Don’t hold your breath!

Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water before, during and after you work out. You may not feel thirsty, but you can still be dehydrated.

 

Getting motivated to stay active in the winter can be a challenge.

Don’t let the cold days discourage you or your loved ones from staying active and healthy. Here are some ways to keep your body moving while you wait for summer. Grab a friend and:

Join a Gym

You don’t have to be a bodybuilder to frequent your local gym. See if they have classes for seniors or trainers skilled in working with older clientele.

Go For a Swim

If you belong to a fitness center that has a heated pool, take advantage and swim a few laps a couple of times a week. And don’t forget low-impact water aerobics!

Find a Yoga Class

Yoga is an all-around great exercise. You can improve your strength, balance and flexibility as well as your mental focus and mood.

Go Dancing

Find a weekly dance group and sashay the winter away. Studies have shown that dancing, such as ballet, has many benefits for seniors, including increased balance, flexibility and motor responses.

Go For a Walk

Bundle up and head outside, even for a few minutes. Just make sure you have on the proper attire and are wearing sturdy walking shoes. If the weather is unfavorable, head to the mall or an indoor track and take a few brisk laps. Check that it’s not too crowded so you’re not being jostled while you walk.


On those days when Old Man Winter is set on keeping you at home, there are still plenty of exercises and activities you can do indoors to keep yourself moving.


Balancing Act

You can improve your balance by doing a few simple exercises. For example, stand on one leg for a count of ten, then the other, holding on to a chair as needed. You can also practice walking in a straight line down a hallway, heel to toe, touching the wall for extra balance.

Stair-Stepping

If you have stairs in your home, even one or two, you can do some light step aerobics that will help with endurance and balance. Be sure to hold on to the handrails.

Light Workouts

Wall push-ups, gentle chair squats and side-to-side shuffles are all easy exercises you can do right at home. You can even incorporate them into your daily chores.

Gaming

Set up a gaming console on your TV. Not only are you able to play full body movement games, you can connect online with friends and family for a little friendly competition and a big motivation boost.

Chair Work

There are several exercises you can do right in your chair.

  • Warm up your wrists and ankles. Flex and straighten your fingers several times, then roll your wrists first one way, then the other. Do the same with your toes and ankles.
  • Raise your calves. Straighten your leg by lifting your foot. Hold for a count of 10, then lower. Do this 10 times with each lower leg.
  • Marching in place. Hold on to the arms of your chair. Lift your knees one at a time as if you were marching. Try to alternate your legs 20 times, then rest and repeat.
  • Slide your feet. Bend your knees, then straighten one leg at a time with toes pointed at the ceiling. Drag your heel back to the chair, then repeat with the other leg. Do this 10 times with each leg.
  • Lift some light weights. Hold a pair of light weights in your hands at your shoulders. Slowly straighten your arms overhead, then return to shoulder level. Do this 10 times. Change the position of the weights to start in your lap, palms up, then bend your arms at the elbow to touch the weights to your shoulders. Repeat 10 times.
  • Twist your torso. Sit straight in your chair with your hands behind your head. Twist to one side, then the other, gently stretching your entire torso. Repeat 5 times, then rest a bit before twisting another 5 times.


Not Every Activity Needs To Be Exercise

Although exercise is great for your body, it’s also good to remember to keep your mind active when the season turns to long nights and cold temps.

Join a community center. Indoor games and crafts with like-minded people will help keep your mind sharp and stave off loneliness and boredom.


There are many options to help you stay active even in the winter. Try a few, or several, until you find a daily or weekly routine that works for you.

Remember, the key is to be consistent and do a little something every day. The longer you practice an exercise, the easier it will become and the more benefits you will receive from regular participation. You will notice yourself getting stronger and more flexible.


Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your personal winter activity routine. It’s not too late to begin a daily habit of healthy movement designed to take care of you!

Take care of you. Take care of yours. We’ll be here to help you with both.

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Shelby, NC 28150

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Disclaimer: The contents in this site, and any linked materials, is not intended nor should be construed as medical advice. With any and all health concerns the reader has, they should consult with a licensed physician or other provider.

Phone: 704-482-1482

Fax: 704-482-0811