Staying active during the winter can be a challenge for seniors since the colder weather makes it even harder to go outside. Many older adults may even find walking outside in the cold weather unpleasant because they lose body heat faster as they age.
Under normal circumstances, they’d be able to replace their evening walks with mall walking groups or workout sessions at the local gym but unfortunately, the pandemic has eliminated those options. To maintain their physical fitness this winter, seniors will need to switch up their workout routines and try exercises that can be done in the safety of their own homes instead.
Below are five easy indoor exercises older adults can do in a living room (or even a backyard) with minimal floor space and equipment.
Yoga has a myriad of health benefits and can significantly improve your loved one’s wellbeing during the cold winter months ahead. Several studies have shown that yoga increases both balance and physical mobility in seniors aged 60 and older. Developing a regular yoga practice can also increase their flexibility, boost their mood, decrease their blood pressure, and strengthen their muscles and bones. Although yoga may seem difficult or intimidating at first, there are lots of videos geared toward beginners and seniors online that can help ease your loved one into it.
2. Gentle stretching
Gentle stretching is another great way for older adults to increase their flexibility and mobility. It’s recommended that seniors stretch for at least ten minutes twice per week to stay limber. If doing floor exercises is too hard on their joints, they can perform seated stretches like side bends and knee raises on a chair or stool.
3. Online workout classes
If your elderly relatives miss the social aspect of going to the gym, they may enjoy taking a fitness class online. Working out alongside an instructor can help motivate them to keep exercising and improving their health this winter. Silver Sneakers has a variety of live Zoom classes that are available to Medicare Advantage recipients at no extra cost, including dance, strength training, and tai chi.
Doing chores around the house is a great way for seniors to stay active during the winter when they can’t spend as much time outside. They can burn up to 200 calories vacuuming and as many as 300 calories just by making the bed in the morning for 30 minutes.
Because housework is an aerobic activity that gets the heart pumping, doing it for a few hours every day can help keep your loved one in good health. Research has found that older adults who spend at least 3 hours per day on housework are 25% less likely to have significant health problems than seniors who only clean for around an hour each day.
5. Strength training
After age 60, seniors start losing 3% of their muscle strength each year, which can make it harder to perform everyday activities like carrying groceries and doing yard work. Lifting light weights and performing bodyweight exercises like squats and wall push-ups can help them regain the muscle they’ve lost and maintain their independence. Strength training can also improve their bone health, increase their mobility, and even prevent cognitive decline, so it’s worth the time and effort.
Staying active when you can’t visit your local gym or take walks outside due to cold weather can be a challenge but it’s not impossible. With a little creativity, seniors can find indoor exercises they enjoy and maintain their physical fitness safely from the comfort of their own homes this winter.
More resources for aging adults during COVID-19: