senior-winter-exercisePhysical activity has many health benefits such as strengthening both the muscles and the cardiovascular system while improving the respiratory system and helping folks to live longer. Exercise helps prevent many health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke all while promoting good mental health and independence in seniors as well as helping them lead a quality, healthful, lifestyle.

Exercise is important all year round but perhaps most importantly during the winter months when it is too cold and hazardous for seniors to spend time outside. There are many exercises that can be done in the comfort of the senior’s home or indoors that are effective and safe.

Indoor Exercises/Physical Activities

  • Yoga
  • Low Impact Aerobics
  • Pilates
  • Water Aerobics
  • Dance Classes. This option provides a social element.
  • Tai Chi Classes
  • Qi Gong Classes
  • Playing Exergame. These are video games designed specifically to boost the fitness level and include the PlayStation Move or Wii Fit.
  • Go To the Gym. Instructions on proper equipment use and a doctor’s advice should be acquired before using any gym equipment. This equipment includes: the treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, weights, and pull-up/sit-up benches.
  • Swim In an Indoor Pool. For a needed change the active senior might try water aerobics.
  • Walking. Walking the halls of an apartment building or house, or mall-walking, are great ways to walk indoors.

Seniors Need Motivation to Exercise

Many seniors are discouraged by barriers such as chronic health conditions or concerns about injuries or falling. If an individual has not exercised regularly in the past, they may not know where to begin. Perhaps recurring health problems or disabilities are keeping them from being active or perhaps they believe themselves too old or frail. Frankly, seniors simply do not have the option of not exercising if they want to remain healthy and live longer. Exercise plays a key role in staying strong, being energetic, and staying healthy as we get older.

No matter one’s age or their current physical condition, they can benefit from exercise. The rewards of exercise don’t require strenuous, daily workouts or frequent trips to the gym. It’s simply about incorporating more movement and activity into one’s life, often even in small ways. Whether an individual is generally healthy, is managing some illness, or even if they are housebound, there are numerous ways to get the body going and to improve their health.

This is where a caregiver can be a great ally in a senior’s pursuit of an active lifestyle.  A caregiver can help design appropriate exercises, and ensure that a senior is performing them safely and properly.  Exercising is best enjoyed when done as a group, so exercising together can be a real motivating factor.

Physical Benefits of Exercise for Seniors

  1. Helps seniors lose or maintain a healthy weight. The metabolism slows with age so maintaining a healthy weight becomes more challenging over time. Exercise increases metabolism and burns calories. When a healthy weight is reached and maintained, the senior’s overall health will improve.
  2. Reduces the impacts of chronic disease and illnesses. Exercise boosts immune function, aids in heart health and blood pressure, helps achieve better bone density, and aids in digestive functions. Seniors who maintain an active lifestyle are also less likely to suffer from some conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, colon cancer, and osteoporosis.
  3. Enhances balance, flexibility, and mobility. Exercise improves strength, posture, and flexibility which will in turn improve balance and coordination which can help reduce the risks of falling.
  4. Improves sleep habits. Quality sleep is important for overall health. Exercise helps the individual to fall asleep more quickly and deeply.
  5. Good for the brain. Exercise promotes regular brain functions which keeps the brain active. This can prevent cognitive decline, dementia, and memory loss.

The more active seniors become, the more rewards they will reap. It important for people to stay positive and motivated about their exercise programs, even if life’s obstacles get in the way of progress (like inclement weather). The most important thing to remember is that more activity leads to more energy for fun, enjoyable activities and once it becomes a habit, most seniors will never want to give that up.

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