Getting enough exercise is an important part of staying healthy, especially for seniors. Working out can reduce their risk of falling and developing chronic conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Studies have even shown that regular exercise can help prevent cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.
During the winter when temperatures drop, it may be more difficult for seniors to stay active. Exercising outside can be unpleasant due to the cold weather, and going to the gym may not be possible because of COVID-19.
Despite these challenges, older adults can still find ways to work out and improve their physical fitness. Here are 11 activities seniors can try this winter to get in shape.
1. Do Housework
Doing housework is a great way for seniors to stay active during the winter. Cleaning burns up to 300 calories per hour and can help older adults maintain their health and independence.
Studies have shown that seniors who do their own chores have more brain volume in both the frontal lobe and hippocampus. Since these areas of the brain are involved in learning, memory, and cognition, seniors who clean may stay sharper as they age. Doing chores is also good for the heart and can improve flexibility and mobility, enabling seniors to age in place successfully.
Dancing is a fun indoor activity that can be done alone or with a partner. Seniors can simply turn on some music and move to the beat, or take lessons to learn more advanced styles of dance like the waltz. Either way, your loved one will experience lots of health benefits from dancing.
Dancing can improve their posture, balance, and coordination. It can also relieve stress and help them maintain muscle and bone strength. So encourage your loved one to put on their dancing shoes this winter!
3. Try Chair Yoga
Chair yoga enables seniors to get all the benefits of regular yoga while being easier on their joints. Doing chair yoga for just a few minutes each day can improve their flexibility, increase circulation, and aid in chronic pain management.
Some easy poses to try include:
Seated Overhead Stretch – Slowly stretch your arms toward the ceiling, hold the position for a minute, and bring your arms back down to your sides.
Seated Forward Bend – Slowly bend forward as far as you can without discomfort to stretch your neck and back. Hold the position for a moment and then return to an upright posture.
There are lots of videos online that can help your loved one learn new poses. As they advance in their yoga practice, they can perform standing poses using a chair for support and incorporate strength-building props like yoga straps and blocks.
4. Play Active Video Games
Research has shown that playing active video games like Just Dance and Mario Tennis Aces has the same health benefits as jogging. Your loved one may enjoy playing video games more than using exercise equipment, enabling them to work out for longer without getting bored. The whole family can even join in on the fun and spend some quality time together while exercising!
5. Work with a Personal Trainer
If your loved one is new to exercise and doesn’t know where to start, working with a personal trainer can help. A personal trainer will create a personalized fitness plan for your relative based on their goals and abilities. They’ll also make sure your loved one is using proper form so they don’t get injured and motivate them to stick with their new workout routine.
Due to new COVID-19 variants, your relative may not feel comfortable going to the gym. Luckily many trainers offer Zoom workout sessions, allowing older adults to improve their health from the comfort and safety of their own home.
6. Follow Workout Videos
If personal training sessions aren’t in your loved one’s budget, they can follow workout videos instead. There are lots of free exercise routines online that are geared toward seniors.
SilverSneakers has a wide variety of exercise and nutrition videos available to Medicare members at no cost. Most libraries have a collection of workout videos seniors can check out for free as well.
You can also find exercise routines designed for older adults on YouTube. The National Institute on Aging has a playlist of workout videos on their YouTube channel for seniors who want to improve their physical fitness.
7. Lift Weights
Weightlifting isn’t just for bodybuilders! Strength training can help seniors build muscle mass, reduce their risk of osteoporosis, boost their mood, and even improve their sleep.
As long as a doctor signs off, lifting weights is safe for seniors. The key is to start slow. Only work out two or three days per week and use light weights at first. Seniors should also make sure they’re using proper form to avoid injury, which they can learn by working with a personal trainer or watching exercise videos. Here are some simple weightlifting exercises to start with:
- Bicep curls
- Dumbbell lunges and squats
- Overhead press
- Lateral raises
8. Ride a Stationary Bike
Although it’s too cold to go on a bike ride outside during the winter, seniors can get a similar experience by using a stationary bike indoors. Researchers have found that indoor cycling is just as good for you as riding a regular bike outdoors.
Indoor biking can also boost heart health and increase muscular endurance without putting stress on the joints. So it may be a good choice for seniors who want to stay active, but have trouble walking due to chronic pain.
9. Walk Around the House
When it’s too cold to walk outside, seniors can still do laps around the house or even walk in place to get some exercise. Studies have shown that seniors can burn around 258 calories per hour just by stepping in place, so it’s a good way to get in shape. Adding some wrist or ankle weights can make the workout even more challenging and burn additional calories.
10. Play Ping Pong or Air Hockey
Believe it or not, games like ping pong and air hockey provide a good workout. Seniors can burn between 250 and 300 calories during each hour of gameplay.
The fast-paced movements involved in ping pong and air hockey increase hand-eye coordination and get the heart pumping. Preliminary research has even shown that playing table tennis increases blood flow to the brain, which could make it a helpful treatment for dementia patients.
11. Get a Rebounder
If you’ve never heard of rebounders, they’re mini trampolines with stability bars attached for balance. Seniors can gently bounce on a rebounder to build bone strength and improve their coordination and lymphatic drainage.
Rebounding is low-impact and easy on the joints, making it a suitable form of exercise for most seniors. However, check with your loved one’s doctor before getting them a rebounder or starting any new fitness routine.
An in-home caregiver can help with exercises!
Some seniors may have a hard time exercising on their own safely due to mobility issues. An in-home caregiver can monitor and assist your loved one while they exercise to ensure they don’t hurt themselves. They can also help with other activities of daily living like cooking and dressing, enabling your relative to maintain their independence and age in place.
Contact us today to learn more about in-home care services and how they can improve your loved one’s daily life.