The sedentary life of an Ohio winter and early spring can induce a hibernation-like state for even the most active of people. It’s common to avoid the cold temperatures by staying home more, moving less, and spending more time on the couch. These lackadaisical winter habits cause an overall sluggish feeling and result in weight gain, decreased muscle mass, and setbacks to general well being.
For seniors, staying active in the colder months is even more challenging. Below are some ways for caregivers to help seniors stay active while also staying in.
At Home Activity
For some, leaving the house in the winter months, with freezing temperatures and icy conditions make it a safety hazard even more so than an annoyance. There are plenty of ways that caregivers can encourage seniors to stay active without leaving the home:
- Use a computer, tablet, smart TV or smart phone to access YouTube videos. A simple search for “Home fitness for seniors” will results in hundreds of options. You can further narrow down results by ability using search words such as “seated exercises” or “bedridden exercises”. We love the videos produced by the National Institute on Aging called Go4Life.
- Pedometers and Fitbit type devices are very affordable and a great way to encourage mobile seniors to stay on their feet more around the house. Help them track their daily steps and write down goals for each week. Make it more fun by having them guess how many steps it takes to reach a certain distance in their home and then have them walk it.
- If mobility is more limited, focus on stretching and strength instead. Yoga is a great way to increase flexibility and encourage blood flow and there are dozens of yoga poses that can be done from a seated or lying down position. Strength building can be encouraged with minimal weight. A full water bottle repetitively lifted, a bean bag on top of a foot, or a sock filled with rice can offer enough weight and resistance to inspire muscle building.
Outside of the Home
For those who are more inclined to brave the elements and stay active outside of the home, there are numerous programs in the Toledo area specifically for this purpose.
- SilverSneakers is a fitness program for seniors that is included with many Medicare Advantage plans. SilverSneakers provides significantly discounted or even free, gym memberships, fitness classes, and events for seniors in our area. While SilverSneakers is the best-known program, many insurance companies now provide similar benefits. Inquire with your carrier to see what is available.
- Aquatic fitness is a great option for aging bodies. Not only does the low impact nature of tis option work well for aging bodies, but fall risks are eliminated and warm indoor pools are soothing to muscles. Toledo area seniors can join in at various YMCA locations, the St. James Club, or numerous other private training and therapy facilities.
- For those who would prefer to stay active independently and avoid group classes, simply walking at the mall or other large retail establishments is a great option. Caregivers can make it more fun by implementing a scavenger hunt with a goal to spot various products or items while walking.
Staying active, even in small increments, not only helps senior’s physical wellbeing but also can inspire cognitive function and emotional stability. As with any age, a change in physical activity should always be discussed with a physician beforehand.
Keep the activity in-line with abilities and health and always be cautious of falls and drastic changes in vital signs while being active. Staying active while staying in is a healthy and fun way to maintain fitness during the cold winter and early spring months.