Question: This time of year, I often become restless. I want to exercise more to work off that energy, but the winter weather makes it harder to do that outdoors and the COVID situation keeps me from attending fitness classes at my health club. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: All of us need exercise, whatever our age. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise cuts your risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease and improves your mood, strength, and balance. Experts recommend older adults complete 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise every week. Of course, at this time of year cold temperatures, icy sidewalks, and limited daylight may prevent people from venturing outdoors and the recent COVID surge has discouraged others from gathering in group settings like senior centers and health clubs.
The Mayo Clinic suggests you get creative:
- Go virtual: Perhaps you already use Zoom or other video conferencing to interact with friends and family. So why not tap technology to stay in shape? Many fitness clubs, senior centers, and disability resource centers continue to offer low-impact virtual classes or even one-on-one training online. Your health insurance plan may pay for some or all of the costs of these classes.
- Find a video: Get workout videos designed for older adults from your local library or YouTube. Ideally, they should include stretching, strengthening, and cardio exercises. Some videos feature exercises you can do while seated, such as stretching, weightlifting, and chair yoga.
- Schedule time to move: Set aside a specific time to exercise. Some people enjoy working out in the morning to get a jump on the day while others prefer the evening, to mark the end of the workday. You can incorporate additional movement into your routine during the day, such as putting away laundry one item at a time, walking in place during the commercials of your favorite TV shows, and climbing the stairs instead of opting for the elevator.
- Experts suggest seniors take extra precautions when exercising outside during the winter. Stay inside if it’s going to be very cold, windy, or the roads and sidewalks are predicted to be slippery. Before going out, it’s best to warm up your muscles by walking a bit or pumping your arms. Wear several layers of loose clothing. This traps warm air between the layers and acts as efficient insulation. and avoid tight clothing because this can restrict your blood flow and make you lose body heat.
- Our agency’s Healthy Living Center of Excellence offers free evidence-based exercise workshops that meet virtually. For more information about these and other HLCE workshops, visit our website at https://agespan.org/solutions/health-wellness/
I wish you an active and healthy new year!