Snow, ice, and cold temperatures can make getting outside and staying active more of a challenge in winter for older adults. While it might be nice to curl up by the fire with a good book, staying active can help you maintain your physical and mental health, reducing feelings of depression and isolation, as well as helping to reduce the risk of falling. InnovAge’s clinical exercise physiologists
offer the below exercises that can be done at home.
“Before we talk about exercises,” says David Hoeng, a therapist in InnovAge’s Aurora center in Colorado
, “let’s talk about warming up. In order for your body to move optimally, it needs to be at the right temperature (like letting the engine in the car warm up). Just getting up and moving around will warm up your muscles.”
David also advises that depending on your stability, some exercises should be done seated, or not at all. Either way, keep your back straight and stand (or sit) tall. Of course, be sure to talk with your doctor about what exercises make the most sense for you before trying any of these on your own.
- March in place (seated or standing): March in place in a slow and controlled motion. Keep your toes pointing forward at all times. Lift each leg as high as you can, so your thigh is parallel to the floor. If you can’t lift it that high, bring it up as high and as safely as it will go.
- Heel-toe (seated or standing): With feet shoulder width apart, lift the heels off of the floor, pause for a second, return heel to the floor. Then lift your toes off of the floor, pointing it to the sky, return to floor.
- Seated alphabet toes: Write the alphabet with your toes
- Seated leg extension: Extend one leg so it is straight in front of you, parallel to the floor. Return foot to starting position and repeat with the other foot.
- Seated hamstring stretch: Sit closer to the edge of the seat, straighten one leg (while keeping the other bent) with toe pointing to the sky. With a straight back, slowly reach for your foot. Stop and hold the position when you feel a tightness in your hamstring or when your back starts to round.
If you like to walk but want to stay away from icy sidewalks, look for a well-paved and well-traveled path in a nearby park, a shopping mall, or if you have access to a gym, you can use a treadmill. Other good options for winter activities include swimming, dancing, or fitness classes in a group. At InnovAge PACE centers
, many participants walk loops to get their steps in, or take part in group classes such as aerobics, yoga, chair tap, and more.
“Whatever you choose to do,” says David, “keeping active, and doing it safely, will help keep you healthy this winter.”
programs can help seniors stay active with a team of doctors, physical therapists, social workers, clinical exercise phsyiologists, and other specialists who work together with the senior, and their caregiver, to create a personalized care plan to maintain their health and independence.