Staying Fit During WinterNovember 1, 2019
When colder temperatures arrive and the snow starts falling, it’s easy to neglect exercise, especially as we age. But winter shouldn’t mean hibernation. There’s no reason you need to take a break from physical activity when it gets chilly outside. Senior living communities like Essex Meadows, or your local senior center, provide plenty of fun opportunities for indoor fitness activities.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, almost all older people can benefit from more physical activity. As we age, our bodies take a little longer to repair themselves, but moderate physical activity is good for people of all ages and ability levels. In fact, for most people, the benefits of exercising regularly far outweigh any risks. Even older individuals with chronic illnesses can find ways to work out safely. Many medical conditions can be improved through physical exercise, including Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, heart disease, diabetes, constipation, high blood pressure, and obesity. In fact, regular exercise can delay or even prevent chronic disease, improves mood, and lowers chances of injury.
Remember, physical activity increases blood flow, so staying active is important for your whole body, including your brain. Performing a minimal amount of daily physical movement and exercise has benefits for virtually every anatomical system, as well as improving mental and psychological well-being.
No matter your age, the best exercise is the one you enjoy most. After all, if you don’t like your workout, how long are you going to stick with it? Here are some fun, social and beneficial ways to stay strong, be safe, and maintain your independence.
Group exercise classes
One of the best ways for seniors to get physical activity is to join group exercise classes. At Essex Meadows, we have group exercise classes in all shapes and sizes, including water aerobics, tai chi, and yoga (which you’ll read more about below). Other exercise classes offered here include:
- Balance and isometrics
- Abs and more
- Strength and stability
- Mat and stability ball class
- Power stretch
- Personal training
Beyond the physical benefits, group classes are also a great social activity. With more older adults reporting feelings of depression, loneliness and isolation, group exercise classes are a great way to interact with peers and make friends. They also offer encouragement to try something new, as many of the classes feature new types of exercises. All are available to people of all interests and abilities.
Swimming might be the perfect exercise. Whether you’re performing the backstroke, taking a water aerobics class, water walking, or playing Marco Polo with the grandkids, getting in the pool is a great way to increase your cardiovascular fitness while also strengthening your muscles. It does all this while putting minimal stress on your bones and joints, which is a major benefit for those with arthritis or osteoporosis.
Water aerobics and other water-based activities increase metabolism, improve cardiovascular health, increase strength, and slow age-related loss of muscle mass and the decrease of reaction time.
Tai chi is a low-impact, relaxing form of exercise that is one of the most effective for the health of seniors’ minds and bodies. You may have seen groups of people demonstrating its slow-moving circular forms in public parks. It can help you maintain strength, flexibility and balance, and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life.
This meditative form of exercise consists of a series of 19 movements and one pose. It differs from other types of exercise in several key ways. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery.
The popular image of yoga may be a young person twisted up like a pretzel, but those who are older and less flexible can enjoy a yoga practice just as much, and potentially benefit from it even more. One of the great things about yoga is that it is so adaptable to different populations with diverse physical abilities and needs.
With a holistic approach, yoga helps build muscle strength, aerobic fitness, core stability and total-body mobility — all of which are important for seniors. And while yoga is low-impact and gentle on your body’s joints, it’s still weight-bearing, meaning that you have to support your body’s weight with every posture. That’s central to strengthening not just your muscles, but also your bones. It also improves balance, which is important in preventing falls.
The benefits of yoga for seniors are much the same as those for the general population: increased muscle tone, balance, strength and improved mood.
If you’d like to know more about Essex Meadows and see our full calendar of exercise classes, <ahref=”/contact/”>contact us here. We’ll be in touch soon.