How seniors can stay active during the winter months

Many seniors place a heavy emphasis on staying physically fit and socially engaged, and for good reason. Research has found that older adults who are more active have a lower risk of falling and may be able to mitigate pain from arthritis, not to mention the benefits for their heart, muscles and mind. Yet, while older adults recognize the importance of staying active, it’s not always that easy for them to do so, especially during the winter months. Although it’s challenging, seniors can find ways to stay active once winter arrives, they just need to take a creative approach.

Make a few tweaks
Some of the senior community’s favorite activities are simply not feasible once it turns colder and the streets become coated in snow and ice. Going for a walk each morning is certainly doable in June and July, but heading outside in January and February in winter weather can not only put seniors at risk for illness but the slippery conditions dramatically increase their chances of experiencing a fall. However, just because seniors may not want to be outdoors doesn’t mean they have to give up their favorite activities.

There are a variety of opportunities for seniors to exercise outside of the elements. For instance, simple tweaks, such as walking on a treadmill or riding on a stationary bike can be a suitable alternative for several months. But if older adults are looking to avoid the sometimes-tedious nature of treadmills, locating a covered indoor track can be an even better option.

Importance of being social
While it’s critical that seniors don’t become sedentary during the winter months, it’s also imperative that their social lives don’t take a hit once the temperature drops. Becoming isolated during the winter can cause a host of other health issues such as depression and anxiety. However, much like exercise, older adults don’t need perfect weather to stay socially active. Group activities, such as bingo or an adult education class, can offer social engagement.

Combine the two
Winter weather also provides seniors the opportunity to combine both physical activity and social engagement. Exercising as a group, whether through video games that encourage movement or weekly water aerobics classes, will not only ensure older adults’ health doesn’t suffer during the winter, but may also push them to be more active once the weather warms up.