Ways to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle During Winter
If you’re like many people, the healthy resolutions you made at the beginning of the year are beginning to falter. The holidays are behind us, and the winter doldrums might be settling in. Despite having the best of intentions, it can be a struggle to stick with new year’s goals to eat healthy and exercise faithfully. Unlike the warmer months of the year, when it just seems easier to stay active and engaged, winter can tempt us to stay indoors and hibernate until spring.
Those who are loyal walkers the rest of the year might be fearful of slip-and-fall injuries during the winter. Icy, snowy weather can also create driving hazards, making traveling to a fitness club less appealing. One way to stay fit when stuck indoors is to explore a few forms of fitness you can safely engage in from the comfort of your living room.
While you’ll want to talk with your primary care doctor for specific advice, the general recommendation is to combine different types of exercise. Stretching, lightweight training, and aerobic activities that get your heart pumping all offer different and necessary health benefits.
Winter Fitness Ideas for Older Adults
Here are some suggestions to discuss with your doctor this winter.
- Indoor aerobic exercises: Engaging in aerobic exercises indoors is easier than you think. Investing in a recumbent bike is one idea. It’s generally considered safer than other types of stationary bicycles and you may find one used for a good price. The same holds true for a treadmill. Newer models are more compact and easier to fit in your house. You can use either one while enjoying your favorite morning shows. There are also free online videos that show how to work out from a seated position. The Senior Fitness with Meredith series on YouTube, which includes Senior Fitness: Seated Cardio Exercises, has earned great reviews from older adults.
- Holistic fitness activities: Yoga and Pilates are forms of exercise that nurture the body, mind, and spirit. They combine stretching with building core strength and stamina. If you aren’t as flexible as you used to be or if you have mobility challenges, these can still be good fitness activities for you. Evidence shows practicing seated chair yoga and Pilates can be just as beneficial as the original forms of these exercise programs. YouTube channels like SeniorShape Fitness are an easy, free resource to try.
- Tai chi: This ancient Chinese martial art is also a good form of fitness to try during the winter. It’s another option that improves core strength, as well as greater endurance and flexibility. Each of these also helps to lower a senior’s risk for falls. The Arthritis Foundation has free tai chi resources you can use to get started.
- Strength training: Another reality of aging is that muscle mass begins to decline. Known as sarcopenia, experts say muscle loss can start in your 30s. Working strength training into your fitness plan a few days a week can help overcome that. Resistance bands and light weights are inexpensive ways to do that. You can increase the weight or switch resistance bands as you grow stronger.
One final tip is to partner with a workout buddy this winter. Agree on which types of exercises you’ll each do on different days of the week, and check in to hold one another accountable. If you are comfortable with video chat services like Zoom or Skype, you could exercise together virtually. It might make it more fun and help you find the motivation to stay on track.
About Presbyterian Senior Living
Presbyterian Senior Living is a not-for-profit organization, fulfilling its charitable purpose and mission by providing high quality retirement choices, healthcare services and affordable residential living options for people 55 and older for more than 85 years. Headquartered in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Presbyterian Senior Living provides services to approximately 6,000 seniors in 30 locations in the mid-Atlantic region of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and Delaware.
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