If you find yourself less active during the winter months, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, physical inactivity takes a toll on not only your body but also your mental health. The National Institute of Aging recommends getting at least 30 minutes of activity per day. Although it is more difficult to be active in the colder months due to safety factors from weather, there are some ways seniors can stay active until the warmer months roll around again.
The effects of inactivity
Inactivity poses several health and wellness risks, including:
- Increased risk of falling
- Reduced muscle mass
- Mental irritability and decreased mood
Staying active all year long helps reduce these risks.
Wondering where to start? Here are … ways you can stay active during the colder months.
Walking around the mall to get in a workout is a very popular trend. Malls have plenty of space, the temperature is controlled, and it’s free (unless you shop, of course!). Plus, this is a great way to socialize with a friend or meet other mall walkers. You could even start your own mall walking club.
Mall walking is a lot safer than walking on icy winter sidewalks, which elevates the risk of falls. Plus, you won’t have to wear winter clothing when you are walking in the mall, but whatever you are comfortable in. Most malls have storage units or lockers where you can leave your belongings while you walk.
Although the risk of falls is less in this setting, it is still important to wear proper clothing and supportive shoes.
>>Senior Health Spotlight: Fall Prevention
Design your own home gym
Today, it is easier than ever to make your home workout space. YouTube has many free exercise channels that provide guided workouts at home. You can even stream these videos from your television if you have a smart TV system, such as AppleTV.
To make your own home gym, the possibilities are endless. You can purchase an exercise bike or a treadmill, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to make an effective space. A kettlebell or a set of dumbbells are affordable pieces of equipment, as is a yoga mat. You can also invest in workout DVDs or check them out from the library each week.
>>Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults
Many people purchase a three-month fitness membership or a pay-as-you-go membership to gyms in the winter months. This is ideal for people who know they will be outside in the warmer months. This provides a great opportunity to partake in fitness classes that you enjoy, such as dancing, water aerobics, or team sports.
You can also burn calories by playing recreational games, such as bowling, pool, and air hockey. Although they aren’t vigorous activities, it is movement, socialization, and fun!
You don’t have to stay cooped up all the time in the colder months. Walking outside with cleats or traction tools helps to minimize the risk of falls. You can also participate in cross-country skiing or snowshoeing if taking the proper safety precautions, such as going with a friend or informing someone of where you are going and when you will be back.
The important thing is to get activity in and make sure it is fun but safe.