Research indicates that exercise provides many wellbeing benefits, particularly over the age of 65. Some of these benefits include:
Improving health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease
Positively affecting mood, especially during the winter doldrums
Helps in getting better sleep
Enhancing everyday balance and mobility
The winter months, especially in Michigan, can present new challenges to maintaining an active lifestyle. Shorter days, low temperatures and snowy weather can derail even the most regular exercisers. But there are options to stay active that don’t require the outdoors.
Before starting any exercise regimen or making changes to your current physical activity, please make sure to check with your health care provider. No matter which options you choose, think safety first.
1. Gyms aren’t built for just body builders.
If there’s a gym nearby, check to see if it has an indoor track, indoor swimming pool and/or strength training equipment. Ask the gym’s trained staff for an orientation/instruction session to get started. Walkin on the treadmill, or doing some light cycling are great ways to get started. Many Medicare Advantage plans, including Priority Health Medicare, offer free memberships to gyms.
2. Head to the mall.
Not just to shop, of course, but to walk. Many malls have special hours for walkers, and often it’s fairly easy to get around when the mall is slow. Some malls even have distance markers if length is the goal.
Remember, it’s more fun to walk and talk with a friend! Exercise certainly doesn’t have to be done in solitude. Spouses, friends, and coworkers all make good walking partners. Give the person who comes to mind first a call and invite them to walk.
3. Use technology as an advantage.
There are several “wearable” fitness watches. Each fitness gadget comes with different features, but generally they are bands worn around the wrist that tracks steps taken, pace and calories burned. Or, use the Internet to search for different exercise programs. Even the TV can be a tool for fitness activity. There are channels on television that offer activity programs, digital or DVD rentals available, or streaming services.
4. Use what’s already in the house.
Nice equipment is handy, but not necessarily needed to get or stay in shape. Even with no specialized equipment, exercises can be done with a chair, lifting cans of soup from the pantry for strength training, or by walking in place.
After getting stronger try adding simple equipment like resistance bands yoga foam blocks, or an exercise mat. All can be purchased at a local grocery store.
5. Add fun, or entertainment!
Some electronic gaming systems, such as Wii Sports or Fit or the Ring Fit for Nintendo Switch, provide not only fun at-home activity, but can track and record fitness goals, too. And don’t forget that simple games like ping-pong or bowling are fun, keep the body moving and include some friendly competition.
If electronic gaming systems sound complicated, try flipping on the TV while walking in place or watching YouTube videos on a smartphone while lifting soup cans. Entertaining programs make the time pass by quickly during exercise.
In addition to all of these benefits, exercising also empowers people to be active participants in their personal health journeys. Physical activity is for year-round, not just in the summer. Expanding horizons to new locations, grabbing a friend, or trying some tech could all be great ways to find a new favorite way to stay active.