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Staying active in the winter

Written by by Dr. Tere Koenig. Posted in December

The cold temperatures, snow, and ice that come during the winter months can make you want to stay indoors. That doesn’t mean you should hibernate or become a couch potato. You still need to get some exercise each day for your health’s sake.

 

People who stay active reduce their risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, certain cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Plus, working out regularly can improve your mood, increase your energy level, strengthen your immune system, help you sleep better, and lower your risk of injury. There are plenty of ways to make exercise part of your day even when you want to stay inside.

Get up and go

If you want to go for a stroll but it’s too cold outside, head to the mall. Many malls have walking clubs, or you can always just go by yourself. Be sure to wear non-slip shoes and watch out for ice and snow others may have tracked in.

You can join an exercise class if you want to do something a little more strenuous. Your local fitness center, community center, YMCA, retirement villages, and assisted living facilities may offer classes that meet your needs. They’re a great way to stay active and socialize with others. You can also join a health club or find an indoor pool close by. Swimming is fun and a great exercise.

Home, sweat home

You can get your heart rate going by doing simple things around the house. Routine chores like mopping or vacuuming can serve as a workout. You can climb up and down the stairs if you’re able to do it safely. A sturdy chair can be used for balance so you can perform squats or stretch your legs and back.

Pick up a couple of weights, a yoga mat, and an exercise DVD, and you have your own home gym. You can find senior-friendly fitness videos online, in stores, or even at your local library. You could also buy a new or used stationary bike or treadmill. Whatever you do, just be sure to have a clear space to use, water nearby for hydration, and your phone in case you get injured and need to call for help.

Head out in the cold

Going outside for fresh air on a mild day can be good for you if you take the proper precautions. Be sure to wear layers of clothing—a thin synthetic material followed by a layer of fleece and topped off with a waterproof, breathable layer. Make sure to cover your extremities, especially fingers, ears, and toes, which are the most susceptible to frostbite. Wear shoes or boots that have traction to help prevent slipping on snow and ice. Finally, don’t forget to apply sunscreen. You need it even if the skies are cloudy.

Remember that any type of physical activity can count as exercise. Try to incorporate being active into everyday living year round. Make it part of your routine. The first exercise you should do is just get up off the couch!❦