Does the thought of venturing out to your favourite exercise class in the cold weather make you shiver? Sometimes staying at home is actually a safer idea if the weather is nasty. But, don’t let the cold weather be your excuse to become a couch potato during these winter months. We know that regular physical activity for seniors is important for a healthy lifestyle. Exercise strengthens your muscles and enhances your balance which is important to prevent falls. Being active is also instrumental in preventing the onset of chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes and dementia.
So, what type of exercises can you do at home to stay active during the winter months but stay safe at the same time? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
The 7 Minute Workout – This is a workout for relatively fit and agile individuals that can easily be performed at home. All you need is a chair, a wall and your own body weight. All exercises are done ether in standing position, or on the floor. Each of the 12 exercises are performed for 30 seconds with a 10 second break in between. There are some useful apps for your phone, tablet or laptop that guide you through the program and help you keep track of time. This 7 Minute Workout has been well-researched and is a short, effective way to exercise your major muscle groups and get on with your day.
Fitness Equipment – If you have a stationary bike or treadmill, don’t let them gather dust this winter! These are excellent options for getting your workout in at home when you can’t get to the gym. Getting on and off this equipment can pose a safety risk if balance and co-ordination is an issue. A word of caution: make sure you have supervision if necessary, or avoid use altogether. To exercise while sitting on any chair at home, you may also consider purchasing an Exercise Peddler that can be used for your legs, or on a tabletop to exercise your arms.
Mini Cardio Intervals –This low impact cardio circuit can be done in either standing or from a sitting position. For added balance and safety, keep a chair nearby. If you’d like to increase the intensity, add some forward punching arm movements to get your heart working a bit more. Try to do this mini cardio workout 2-3 times a day to get your blood flowing and joints moving!
- March on the spot for 1 minute
- Lift your knees up as high as you can for 1 minute
- Kick your feet out in front of you for 1 minute
- Rest for 30 seconds
- Repeat circuit 3 times
Indoor Walking Tour – If the sidewalks are too slippery to walk outside, take a walk around your house! Walk in and out of every room and up and down the stairs if you can. For safety, make sure your walking path is free of clutter, electrical cords, and obstacles to avoid tripping. If you live in a condo or apartment building then walk up and down the hallways a few times. You can also ask a family member or caregiver to take you for a walk when they visit if you feel uneasy about walking on your own.
Hire a Personal Trainer – This is a great option if your budget allows. Your personal trainer will supervise and guide you through a customized program designed to meet your fitness goals.
Remember the Wii? – Chances are your children or grandchildren have abandoned their Wii consoles and games for an Xbox or Play Station system. Put that old Wii to good use and have some fun! You can keep your body moving with a simple game of tennis or bowling. Other programs to keep you active include Just Dance and Wii Fit. Give it a try!
Purchase Exercise DVDs – There are so many great exercise DVDs available for purchase online and at retail stores and they target all levels of fitness and ability. Attune Aging Strategies and Solutions has created the Exercise Essentials Program for less active seniors who would like to exercise at home with a safe and effective program.
Remember to be safe when attempting any form of exercise. Seek advice when needed and listen to your body. Keep in mind that even though you are exercising at home, it is not safe to exercise in slippers – put on your sneakers!
The ultimate goal is to make exercising fun so you will keep doing it and start to see the benefits of your efforts. So, despite the cold weather outside, you can still heat things up inside. Put on some feel-good music, get your body moving and shake off those winter blues! If you do, you will see that when the snow melts you will be in great shape to get outside and enjoy the warm, spring weather when it arrives.
Please Note – The content in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice. Consult your physician or health professional about your exercise program, get medical clearance, and ensure you are supervised while exercising if necessary.
Anita Salituri is an Occupational Therapist and founded Attune Aging Strategies and Solutions with her husband and Physiotherapist, Jim Salituri. With over 45 years of combined experience in the field of rehabilitation, they work together to create exercise programs for seniors and deliver educational workshops and skills enhancement training to professional and family caregivers. Attune is focused on enhancing the care and quality of life of older adults as they strive to remain living at home for as long as possible.