Freezing temperatures don’t have to bring our bodies to a standstill. Staying active during the winter can be difficult, but there are plenty of creative ways to keep moving while staying warm and dry inside.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of exercise per week for adults over the age of 65. The two-and-a-half hours can be broken up into smaller increments, but should include activity at least three days a week.
So, how can you keep moving this winter?
Use the space inside your home
Set your oven timer for 15 minutes and take a tour of your house. Start by moving clutter to clear a path and make sure there is nothing to trip over. Walk at as swift a pace as you can safely manage until the timer sounds. Do once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and there you have 30 minutes of exercise for the day!
Go walk around a big-box store
Central Oregon has no indoor shopping centers for mall walking, but many big-box stores are welcoming if you want to come in, lean on a shopping cart for support, and walk the store for exercise. A lap around the inside of the Bend Lowe’s store on Cooley Road is a quarter of a mile, according to Store Manager Dave Lockard, and the store provides benches where you can rest. “We have walkers who come here every day in the winter — we know them by name and always say, ‘hello,’” said Lockard. “We’re a night stocking store, so we keep our aisles clear during the day, and have coat hooks by Customer Service where you can hang up your coat.”
Get inspired by the music you love, put on the radio or your favorite records, and move your feet to the beat! Dancing is a great way to get aerobic exercise, which is essential for older adults to maintain or improve heart and lung health. Better yet? Find a partner and see if you can teach each other some new moves! Make sure you dance for at least 10 minutes to reap the benefits of aerobic activity.
Clean out the pantry
Muscle-strengthening activities should be performed at least twice a week, according to WHO. Taking time to exercise major muscle groups can help prevent falls, maintain healthy bones, encourage mobility, and improve mental wellbeing and cognitive functioning. But you don’t need a fancy set of weights to start a strengthening routine. Your pantry probably contains canned goods and jars with enough weight to strengthen your muscles. Use them for basic bicep curls, overhead presses, or to practice squats over a chair. Work up to 10 or 15 repetitions, all the while keeping in mind what your body can handle.
Take a seat
Other strength training exercises can be done using household furniture. Grab a chair and hold on to it to do some toe stands or, if you feel ready for a more advanced exercise, side hip raises. Find out how to perform these exercises using the guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Growing Stronger: Strength Training for Older Adults” is available online at www.CDC.gov/physicalactivity/downloads/growing_stronger.pdf.
Visit a local recreation center
Recreation and senior centers throughout Central Oregon offer everything from aerobics to Zumba to tai chi at a discounted rate for older adults. Visit www.councilonaging.org/senior- centers to find a nearby center. Or get some full-body winter exercise with a swim at one of the local indoor swimming pools in Bend, Redmond, Sisters, or Madras.
In need of something else this winter? Not sure where to start?
If you or a loved one over the age of 60 is struggling this winter with mobility, shopping and cooking, or any other issues, call the Council on Aging of Central Oregon at (541) 678-5483 to talk with a specialist who can provide information on available resources and programs in your community.
In-home support available on a sliding scale through Oregon Project Independence
If you are over the age of 60 and in need of assistance with personal care, housekeeping, shopping or transportation, you may meet certain requirements to qualify for this statewide program to help people live at home safely and independently. Services are provided on a sliding-scale fee, based on income. Call the Council on Aging of Central Oregon at (541) 678- 5483.