How to Stay Active During the Winter Months
The arrival of winter means lower, colder temperatures across America. This is true even in those typically warm states. The result is that people, especially seniors, will be spending more time indoors where it is warmer. On the surface, staying inside is good for seniors who are more susceptible to cold weather infections such as the flu and pneumonia. But the downside is that those who remain indoors tend to be less active.
The lack of physical movement for weeks or months can have a negative effect on a person’s blood pressure, mental alertness, balance, and coordination. But there are activities and exercises that seniors can do to keep themselves mentally and physically fit. Depending on the local weather, seniors can comfortably go outside to enjoy the crisp cool temperatures.
The following is a list of five helpful mobility activities to remain energetic and in shape. While these activities can be done alone, they can be more fun when shared with other household members or with a caregiver who can watch that seniors do not hurt themselves. The important thing for seniors to remember is to be as active as physically possible while indoors during the cold weather so that they are in shape to enjoy their outdoor activities when the warmer weather arrives.
Remember to only participate in activities that will work within a person’s physical capabilities. Medicare recipients should discuss any new physical activities with their primary health care provider to ensure there are no risks to their personal health conditions.
5 Healthy Winter Activities
There are a lot of low-impact exercise videos available online for seniors. These routines can be done in the comfort of the home for a few minutes every day. Senior routines are intended to easily build or retain muscle strength, to be heart-healthy, and to keep seniors energized. There are also a number of armchair exercise videos available online for individuals with mobility restrictions. Try to make the exercise routines a group effort as people tend to be more motivated to exercise when joined by others.
Other indoor exercises that work to maintain strength, flexibility, and muscle tone include doing chair yoga and using an exercise bike, a treadmill, a rowing machine, hand weights, and a stair stepper. Any of this workout equipment can be beneficial for cardiovascular circulation and emotional wellbeing. To prevent over-stressing a person’s physical abilities, exercise equipment should be set to low-impact levels of operation.
Walking is an excellent indoor and outside activity to maintain muscle tone and to help with circulation. Be sure to wear comfortable, weather-appropriate shoes or boots and enjoy the walk with a friend, another family member, or a caregiver. Winter weather can be invigorating, but cold, so be sure to retain body heat by wearing a heavy jacket, a scarf, a hat, and gloves.
If outdoor walking is not feasible, many shopping centers open their malls for walkers before the normal shopping hours. Other indoor walking options are community centers, local recreation centers, or gyms with walking or jogging tracks.
Arts and Crafts:
If the warmer weather kept people outdoors, now is the time to reunite with hobbies, art projects, and crafting projects. These projects will help to pass the time with inner creativity. They keep hands and minds active, not to mention that some finished items can be given as gifts to family and friends. Seniors can stay connected with loved ones who enjoy the same hobbies by forming clubs that will meet once a week to socialize while working on their individual objects. If people are still isolating because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hobby clubs can still connect online to socialize and to show the progress made on their projects.
In the Kitchen:
Being indoors during the winter months means spending more time in the kitchen preparing meals that were often eaten out during warmer weather. Seniors can use this time of the year to be creative with new cooking and baking recipes. People who love to cook and bake more than they can eat can help feed those less fortunate by donating their culinary dishes to local food banks.
Canning is a good way to preserve fruits and vegetable for summertime picnics or family gatherings. Preserves also make thoughtful gifts for friends and neighbors who live alone.
Seniors can get a head start on their summer gardening projects by planting seedlings in potting bowls or dishes that can be transplanted into the garden when the weather warms up. Another project is to plant flower seeds in pots for colorful indoor floral arrangements in the spring.
Swimming is a wonderful low-impact, resistance activity that helps with physical mobility and works to keep the body in shape. This is an invigorating workout that is also beneficial for the vascular system. People can find a local community center or recreational center that offers discounted memberships for seniors. There are senior centers that offer group pool exercises that work to keep seniors active while also providing a social atmosphere.