Cold temperatures and the harsh weather conditions that often come with winter leave many seniors wanting to stay indoors until spring. And while there are days where it may be safer to stay indoors, staying too sedentary for too long can hold seniors back from maintaining active, more independent lives in the long-term.
In fact, staying active all year long is the best way for seniors to sleep better, maintain a healthy weight and maintain or even increase overall mobility, reducing the risk of falls. It can also help seniors stay healthy by boosting their immune system, leaving them less at risk for winter colds and flus, as well as their risk for developing chronic conditions such as heart disease, osteoporosis and heart disease. Additionally, maintaining an active lifestyle, even in the winter, can help ward off feelings of isolation, loneliness and even depression.
Ready to get moving? Here are a few simple ways seniors can stay active during the winter.
Exercise Indoors. Whether that means setting up a mini home gym complete with a variety of exercise DVDs, or attending a senior-friendly fitness class at a local senior or fitness center, there are ample opportunities to exercise indoors. Yoga, tai chi, water aerobics or even taking a few laps around an indoor track can help seniors get the recommended exercise they need to stay fit and build strength throughout the winter months.
Get Outside When You Can. There are bound to be a few warm spells throughout the winter. Check the forecast daily and take advantage of days when you can comfortably head outside. The fresh air and vitamin D can leave seniors feeling more refreshed and energized. It can also help combat any winter blues that may have set in during these cold months. Be sure to dress in light layers to avoid being overheated or running too cold. Additionally, wear comfortable shoes with traction and avoid icy or snow-covered areas.
Join a Book, Card or Crafting Club. Being a part of a club that meets regularly can give you something to look forward to going to all year long, but especially during the winter months when many are tempted to stay indoors. It also gives seniors a chance to socialize with others who share a common interest. Regular socializing has been shown to decrease feelings of isolation and may even help reduce your risk of cognitive decline, as well as the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Head to a Local Museum. Visiting a local art or history museum is a great way for seniors to exercise their minds, while keeping seniors moving. Spending a few hours exploring famous paintings or learning about the history of civilization is a great way to get in some indoor walking. Be sure to ask the museum about any discounts offered to seniors for general admission or special exhibits.
Take Up a New Hobby. Staying mentally active during the winter is just as important as staying physically active. Challenge yourself by taking on a new hobby such as learning a new language, taking up knitting or learning to play an instrument. Doing so can help reduce your risk for cognitive decline and can even ward off feelings of stress or loneliness which can often set in during the winter months.
As previously mentioned, the harsh conditions of winter can make it difficult for seniors to get out and about during the winter months. At Franciscan Ministries, residents have on-site access to the activities, fitness programs and social events they want to stay active no matter what the weather or season. Our variety of senior living options, including Independent and Assisted Living, provide easy living that fits you or your loved one’s lifestyle both now and far into the future.