When the weather is frightful and the forecast reveals digits lower than your shoe size, it can take everything you have just to scrape up enough gumption to get off the couch.
Yet physical activity is good for people of all ages, especially older adults. It can reduce your risk of chronic health conditions, and improve your mood, strength, and balance.
Seniors should aim for 2½ hours of moderate intensity exercise per week. Achieving this can be a challenge during the winter’s cold, dark days. In addition, COVID-19 guidelines have led to more time spent at home and restricted access to some previously available indoor spaces.
Even with these challenges, there are many things seniors can do to remain active and social when the thermometer reads blue.
The Importance of Physical Activity for Seniors
Engaging in regular physical activity helps aging adults maintain healthy muscle mass and bone density. This is a significant factor in effectively preventing falls and subsequent fractures or broken bones, making it safer for aging adults to maintain their independence. Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and, indirectly, LDL or “bad” cholesterol. And although arthritic pain tends to increase in the winter for many aging adults, exercise can help to decrease this pain by lubricating joints.
Of course, the positive effects of physical activity for older adults don’t stop at the physical body. Exercise can significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.
Furthermore, several studies confirm that regular exercise can help slow or prevent cognitive decline, making activity all the more important for aging adults at risk for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and cognitive decline.
Tips To Stay Active in the Winter
Walking is an excellent form of exercise, so when the sidewalks are too icy, hallway or mall walking are a great alternative. Many All Seniors Care retirement homes are built with easy access to malls. Many malls open their doors before their stores do, so walkers can take advantage of the open spaces before the shoppers arrive. Joining a seniors’ mall walking group can be a nice social outing as well.
Swimming is one of the best ways for the elderly to stay active as it is not hard on joints. Many of our senior residences have an indoor pool, and the convenience of not having to leave the building makes it easier to exercise. Try posting a note in the pool area and lobby may help to find a fellow resident looking for a swim buddy. Another option is to check your community’s activity calendar to find out about senior aqua-fit classes.
There are many types of exercise classes, such as chair yoga, or gentle toning that have been adapted specifically for the elderly. Ask your Health and Wellness Coordinator about the classes available in your residence. ASC strictly adheres to local health unit safety protocols so that you can maintain worry free physical activity.
If getting out of your home is just too difficult because of the cold weather, there are still ways to stay active in the comfort of your suite. There are numerous You Tube videos with exercises tailored to elderly people that don’t require a lot of space or equipment. You can join one of our many Motiview bike tours, or even bike around the world with our new guided travel tours. Why not pedal through Paris at night?!
Stay safe when walking outside
Older adults who decide to go outside for a walk during the winter should ensure they stay warm and safe. It’s important to wear proper winter attire, including a thick jacket, hat, gloves, scarf, and boots. If it’s a snowy time of year, it’s a good idea to wait until sidewalks are plowed and salted. Take it slow and watch where you step and be sure to wear proper footwear with good traction.
Exercise the mind
Keeping your brain fit is just as important as the body. Stimulating your mind will improve your memory, your mood, and your health. This winter, find something you enjoy doing, whether it’s puzzles, crosswords, brainteasers or reading, and commit to at least an hour each day.
“It is important to keep moving and be active in the various exercise/physical activities we have daily. I was active my whole life despite the weather or season. I used to cycle and run- I never sat down! As you get older it is difficult to accept your limitations, but you need to be resilient. Accept what you can do and do not push yourself beyond your limits. Modify the movements or exercises to your capabilities and don’t be afraid to try it! I love to encourage others to join in on Aqua Fit and Chair Exercises. I know they are scared but most importantly they had the courage to show up. Keep moving and most importantly enjoy it!”
– Brenda C, 86, Summit Heights
Train for the All Seniors Care Games
One of the highlights of living at an All Seniors Care Living Centre is our annual ASC Games. The Games begin in February, but Spirit Week is coming up quickly! Taking place from Monday January 24th – 28th, Spirit Week aims to get everyone excited for the ASC Games. One of the highlights of the year, events this January include:
- Rock and Roll Walking Club
- Wii bowling
- Billiards, basketball or bocce
- Pétanque atout
- Ladder golf
- Card games
- Board games
The ASC Games takes place in February because the heart of winter can feel like a lonely, isolating time of year. Having an event to look forward to can help seniors overcome the winter blues during a time when a lack of sunlight can cause depression, tiredness, and anxiety.
Happy Active Seniors
One of the first things you will learn about our senior housing options is that we love an active, motivating calendar. Our retirement communities always have something going on, whether it’s classic movie night, chair yoga, Bocce, or arts and crafts. Retirement communities are all about making new friends, finding new hobbies, and rekindling old passions.
To find out more about how we promote physical activity throughout the winter, call us anytime. A great retirement community is one that brings people out of their winter hibernation and gets them moving, laughing, and enjoying life to the fullest.
Writer – Julianna McLeod
Julianna is a health and wellness expert at All Seniors Care. Her mission is to create content that empowers older adults to form sustainable solutions for lasting health and happiness. She is an experienced writer, editor, and Recreational Therapist living in Toronto.