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5 Ways to Stay Active This Winter if You’re Over 65

Feb 11, 2015

The days may be shorter and the mercury is dropping, but there are good reasons to get moving even when the weather outside is frightful.

Research indicates that exercise provides many benefits, particularly if you’re over 65. Some of these benefits include:

  • Improving health conditions such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease
  • Positively affecting your mood, especially during the winter doldrums
  • Helping you sleep better
  • Enhancing 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 motivated exercisers. But there are options to stay active that don’t require heading out into the cold.

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 just for body builders. If there is a gym nearby, check to see if it has an indoor track, indoor swimming pool, and/or strength training equipment. Ask the gyms’ trained staff for an orientation/instruction session to get you started.

2. Head to the mall – not just to shop, of course, but to walk. Many malls have special hours for walkers, and often you can make your way around fairly easily when the mall is slow. Some malls even have distance markers if you’re setting goals for yourself.

3. Use technology to your advantage. There are several “wearable” fitness gadgets, such as FitBit, vivofit, and Nike+ SportWatch. Each one comes with different features, but generally they are bands worn around your wrist that track how many steps you take, your pace and calories burned. Or, use the Internet to search for different exercise programs. Even your TV can be a tool for fitness activity. There are channels on television that offer activity programs, or you can buy or rent different courses on DVD or VHS.

4. Use what you have. Nice equipment is handy, but not necessary to get or stay in shape. Resistance bands are available at most big-box retailers and cost around $15 to $30. Even if you don’t have any specialized equipment, you can do exercises with a chair, lift cans of soup for strength training or walk in place.

5. Have fun with it! Some electronic gaming systems, such as Wii Fit and Xbox Kinect, not only provide fun at-home activity, but can track and record your progress, too. And don’t forget that games like ping-pong are fun, keep you moving and include some friendly competition.

In addition to all of these benefits, exercising also empowers people to participate in their personal health journeys. Think about expanding your physical activity horizon in the winter months. Maybe you’ll find a new favorite to keep you moving all year round!