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Winter Fitness Tips for Seniors

When snow falls and sidewalks ice over in winter, the idea of getting out to do something as simple as going for a walk becomes a potentially life-threatening activity. With more and more research showing that regular exercise benefits overall health and specifically brain health, it’s not a good idea to give up your fitness routine as the seasons change.

The choices for exercise in the winter are to go indoors or to safely continue working out in the colder weather.

For those who opt for being outside in winter, the Mayo Clinic offers these tips:

  1. People living with certain conditions should check with their doctor before venturing outside to exercise in cold temperatures. These include heart disease, asthma or Raynaud’s disease.
  2. Check the weather and factor in the wind chill as this can increase the likelihood of frostbite. Also factor in the potential for rain or snowfall during your time outdoors and dress accordingly in waterproof gear or stay inside.
  3. Educate yourself on the symptoms of frostbite and hypothermia so you can get indoors and get help.
  4. Dress properly in layers, protecting areas such as ears, feet, head and hands that are most vulnerable to frostbite, and wear sunscreen on exposed skin.
  5. Stay hydrated. Just because you are cold doesn’t mean you can’t become dehydrated.

For those who want to keep exercising but don’t want to take the risks of going outside when it’s chilly and slippery, consider these ideas:

  1. Swim or do water exercise at an indoor pool. Not only can water activities improve balance and get your heart rate up, it can also be a way to socialize. Swimming and water exercise can have benefits for people living with living arthritis as there is minimal impact on the joints.
  2. Join SilverSneakers® for an affordable workout as this program is often covered by health insurance plans and includes access to fitness equipment and group exercise classes. This can include yoga, swimming, aerobics and more.
  3. Take a spinning class for that indoor cycling experience.
  4. Keep on walking. Even if you choose to just stay home, do some extra laps up and down the stairs or from room to room. Better yet, call a friend and plan to go to a museum or a mall where you can socialize and look around at things new to you. The health benefits to a vigorous walk include improved balance and coordination, strengthening your bones, maintaining a healthy weight, and more.

Remember that the shorter days and decreased daylight can impact well-being so maintaining energy levels with exercise is beneficial. 

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