7 Ways Seniors Can Exercise During the Winter
As all seniors know, the winter brings many potential dangers. Driving in the snow is dangerous, the flu spreads like wildfire, and it’s far too cold to exercise. Or is it?
As Long Island’s leading orthopedists, we can confirm that it’s important to keep your body active during all times of the year. Even for seniors, there are plenty of ways to stay active during the winter. In fact, for seniors, it’s especially imperative to find a way to stay active.
Beware of Potential Injuries
While the same principle applies throughout the rest of the year, it’s especially important to stay wary of potential injuries during the winter. This is true for a few reasons.
These days, almost everyone understands the potential dangers of shoveling snow during the winter. But you should be aware of other factors, too. Colder temperatures limit blood flow to the muscles, leading to tightened muscles and a limited range of motion. This means that slipping and falling holds a greater danger than usual, especially for seniors.
A Long Island orthopedist can alert you of other dangers, and help you to prevent any bodily damage.
7 Best Winter Exercises for Seniors
It’s important to keep your body (and your brain) moving, even during the winter. These winter exercises for seniors are sure to keep you happy and healthy.
1. Go for a Walk Inside
We know it’s a cliche, but a walking inside is one of the best ways seniors can stay active during the winter. By moving your legs, you can lower the risks of heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes and prevent strain injuries. You can also strengthen bones, muscles, and refine your balance/coordination skills. For extra fitness benefits, move your arms with more purpose, or carry some light dumbbells.
For most seniors, the most common indoor walking area is within their local mall. Most shopping malls open early, often before any stores in the complex. Walking with friends is a great way to stay social, while getting great exercise. Additionally, the clean floors make for a great accident-free environment.
For a more intense workout, increase the speed of your pace. Going for a brisk walk will be even better for burning calories.
2. Walk Outside In Milder Conditions
If there are no traces of snow or ice, then walking outside is another great option. Make sure to dress in layers, as your body may initially be tense with cold, but warm up throughout the activity.
Also, it can’t hurt to wear sunscreen. The temperature itself may be low, but if the sun is out, then UV rays can still do damage to your skin.
If the temperature seems questionable, or there’s ice on the ground, then it’s probably best to stay indoors. Walking on unstable or ice-laden terrain is a risk that’s most likely not worth taking. It can lead to a painful or costly injury.
Finally, stay hydrated. Even during the winter, your body needs the proper fluids to successfully complete the exercise. Central Orthopedic Group can help you determine whether or not outdoor exercising is right for you.
3. Set Up an In-Home Gym
Don’t let the intimidating sound of an in-home gym deter you from this option. For seniors who are looking to get fit on a budget, there are plenty of options.
Even a cost-efficient treadmill allows you to get the cardiovascular exercise you need. You can easily fluctuate between a slow, walking pace and a jog, or anything in between. The effects a simple treadmill exercise can have are remarkable.
Exercise bikes provide a comfortable way to get cardiovascular exercise. Just be sure to choose a recumbent seat, rather than a traditional bike seat.
Ellipticals are another way to achieve a low-impact workout. In addition to offering a great lower-body workout, they also have a positive effect on the upper body.
Lastly, it’s easy to build and retain muscle strength with simple lifting machines or light dumbbells.
For some external inspiration, consider purchasing home workout DVDs. Home workout DVDs run the gamut from intense weightlifting to slow (but steady) cycling. You can even find scores of effective workout routines online for free. YouTube is full of hyper-specific workout routines that can be enormously beneficial for seniors at home. Seniors who are curious about the impact that these exercises will have should consult an orthopedist.
4. Join a Gym
If you lack the space or the funds to set up your own in-home gym, then a gym offers similar benefits. Treadmills, elliptical machines, and weight machines are all great uses of gym equipment during the winter.
In addition to the standard gym equipment, the ability to swim is another large appeal for seniors. Water aerobics and aqua therapy are a staple of many seniors’ workout routine, and for good reason. Swimming is one of the healthiest and most beneficial activities. Not only will it provide great benefits for your whole body, but the water acts as a form of natural resistance. Doing water aerobics or water yoga is a fun and inventive way to vary your normal routine. Just do your best to avoid common swimming injuries.
Many gyms offer senior discounts, which is a great incentive for those hesitating with the decision. Health insurance policies occasionally offer discounts as well. Some gyms are more accommodating to seniors than others– so make sure to do your research before registration.
5. Join the YMCA
If you dislike the general atmosphere of a gym, then joining the local YMCA may be the best way to go. There is generally a stronger community presence, with plenty of other seniors throughout the facility.
YMCAs have all of the equipment that most seniors would require at a gym. They also have community pools, which are great for simple, low-impact water exercises.
6. Community Classes
For seniors, the best ways to stay active are also the most social ways to stay active. Taking community classes is a great way to help your body, while having fun.
These senior fitness classes are offered at several community locations, including libraries, schools, and community centers.
These classes often focus on therapeutic exercises like yoga and aerobics. Other more involved programs– like flexibility, muscle strengthening, and kickboxing– help seniors to have fun, without harming their bodies. Even unconventional exercises – like dancing – might be fun in an instructive group setting.
Beyond bodily benefits, these community classes are also great for making new friendships, and keeping old ones. A Long Island orthopedist can assist you in selecting the right exercise class for you.
7. Anything Else!
Beyond this, any other exercises or stretches that you want to do are great for your body. But, make sure that you are not overstepping your own boundaries, or putting yourself at risk for a fall.
If you are curious about a particular activity, feel free to reach out to a Long Island orthopedist to learn about whether or not this activity is harmful to you. Contact us for more information about how you can exercise carefully during the winter.