While winter may seem like the perfect season to slow down and fill the days with rest and comfort, physical and mental well-being can really suffer when exercise routines are abandoned. This is especially true for seniors. Understandably, colder temperatures and blustery weather conditions make it hard to enjoy or even sustain exercise and active lifestyles outside, but the effects of inactivity during the winter months can take a toll on both physical and mental health. Indeed, staying active during winter is vital for seniors to remain healthy, and there are numerous ways to maintain movement and stay fit when winter hits. Keep reading to learn more about the effects of inactivity, how to stay active in winter, and the many indoor physical activities available at Ventana by Buckner that can prevent the consequences of prolonged inactivity.
Effects of Inactivity
For many seniors, the colder, darker days of winter tend to increase fatigue, cause arthritis pain to flare up, and encourage them to stay inside, making it harder to engage in movement. Inactivity can lead to many ill effects, including:
- Reduced muscle mass
- Intolerance for physical activity
- Increased risk of falling
Beyond the physical side effects of inactivity, staying sedentary and isolated during the winter months can also lead to depression or stress.1
The Importance of Physical Activity for Seniors
Exercise and movement are important for people of all ages, but probably most crucial for aging adults. From a physical perspective, regular physical activity helps aging adults:
- Maintain healthy muscle mass and bone density, which is paramount in effectively preventing falls and subsequent fractures or broken bones
- Reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure
- Decrease arthritis pain by lubricating joints2
From a mental perspective, regular physical activity helps aging adults:
- Significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression
- Prevent cognitive decline and memory loss from diseases like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia3
How to Stay Active in Winter
Ready to feel your best in the winter? No matter the weather, these active ideas will help get you moving:
Did you know walking improves sleep and may even increase your lifespan?4 If the weather is too cold, slick or wet for an outdoor stroll, take your walk somewhere inside. Indoor malls or recreational centers are great places to get plenty of steps in, leaving you feeling energized and fit. Through VentanaFIT, the senior wellness program at Ventana that’s designed to inspire health, strength and happiness, members can walk inside on treadmills or walk the halls and common areas with friends. When the weather is nice enough to step outside, walking groups help members set out for brisk movement and socialization.
Take Water Aerobics
Water aerobics is an excellent way to get the heart pumping, and — unlike traditional aerobics — water aerobics doesn’t put strain on joints. If you live near an indoor pool or recreational center with a pool, consider looking into their water aerobics classes to get your body moving. At Ventana, members enjoy a variety of aqua-based group classes in the sparkling indoor pool. Since the class schedule is continually updated, members are continually experiencing something new.
Swimming is an incredible way to get moving, as it helps strengthen your core while not putting too much impact on your muscles and joints. If you live near an indoor pool, sign up to regularly swim a few laps. It doesn’t matter how slow you go or what stroke you do — the goal is to get moving. Ventana’s beautiful indoor pool is the perfect place to head when you don’t want to exercise outside, but are looking for a full-body workout that’s gentle and effective.
Have Fun in Fitness Classes
For the best of both worlds — exercise and fun with friends — fitness classes offer a fantastic way to stretch, dance, and bend in a social and safe setting. With so many different types of fitness classes you can take, from jazzercise to chair yoga, you can find a class that fits your exact exercise needs and wants. Ventana members participate in yoga, Pilates, strength training, barre and cardio programs in our well-equipped Group Fitness Studio. The class schedule is continually updated to provide the latest and most effective fitness training options.
Individualized Fitness Training
If you prefer to exercise with a personal trainer to get one-on-one attention and support, check with your local gym, recreational center or even YMCA to see if you can work out with one of their licensed trainers. With custom workouts created based on your abilities and preferences, this is a great option to achieve an effective, enjoyable workout — especially when winter arrives. At Ventana, we offer the TECHNOGYM® program that includes equipment and personalized fitness programs to meet the unique needs of every member. Members begin their health journey with equipment orientation sessions and individualized fitness programs to ensure ease-of-use and safety.
Turn on an Exercise Video
When you simply don’t even want to leave the warmth and comfort of your own home, you can always stream exercise videos from a laptop or TV, or you can rent or buy an exercise DVD from the library or store. You can find an exercise video that suits your needs and preferences, and you more than likely don’t even need a lot of room to get moving. Ventana members have access to hundreds of on-demand fitness classes via the Wexer Virtual system available in the Group Fitness Studio. They also have access to on-demand fitness classes anytime, anywhere, on any internet-enabled device with Cooper Aerobics On Demand.
Get Creative with Weightlifting
You don’t need heavy weights or even official exercise equipment to lift weight and intentionally work out various muscles. Think of your daily tasks: drying dishes, carrying groceries, vacuuming, and maybe even walking up and down stairs. Get creative in what you lift or when/where you exercise. Unloading groceries? Consider bicep curls with cans of soup. Vacuuming? Consider doing lunges or modified lunges with every other step. You even can do crunches while watching TV.
Recruit Friends for a Dance Party
Having friends over? Have an indoor dance party. Forget looking silly; turn up your favorite songs, get moving and have a great time. Whether wiggling your hips, kicking your legs or shaking your arms, dancing is a great workout.
When all else fails — whether you can’t find the time or motivation to get moving on a winter day, or if you’re injured, disabled or simply don’t like traditional exercises — find five minutes and simply stretch. You can stretch anywhere and don’t need any equipment. If you’re new to stretching, go slow and engage in gentle stretches. If you don’t know where to start, look up gentle stretches online or consult with your doctor or a local fitness trainer at a gym.5, 6
Stay Healthy and Active During the Winter Months with VentanaFIT
Located in Dallas, Texas — where the weather is fairly mild year-round —you can get outside and stay active for the majority of winter. If you still prefer to stay inside, we’ve got you covered there, too. When you become a member at Ventana, we’ll work with you to find the most effective approach to physical wellness for you. We’ll guide you to exercises to help you maintain your health, improve your overall wellness and reach personal fitness goals. The VentanaFIT Cooper Quest Wellness Program was developed exclusively by Cooper Aerobics. Members participate in functional movement screenings, health assessments and coaching sessions. Members can expect to receive exercise and lifestyle behavior coaching designed to improve the quality of each day with benefits that last a lifetime. If you’re considering a move to a luxurious senior living community, learn more about our community life. We’re excited to connect with you if you have any additional questions. Contact us today.
1National Library of Medicine. Consequences of physical inactivity in older adults: A systematic review of reviews and meta-analyses. Accessed October 12, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32020713/. 2National Center for Biotechnology Information. The Importance of Physical Activity Exercise among Older People. Accessed October 12, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6304477/. 3Journal of Internal Medicine. Physical activity and risk of cognitive decline: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Accessed October 12, 2021. https://flore.unifi.it/retrieve/handle/2158/392682/13325/Meta-analisi%20attivita’%20fisica%20e%20declino%20cognitivo.pdf. 4Arthritis Foundation. 12 Benefits of Walking. Accessed October 12, 2021. https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/exercise/workouts/walking/wow-of-walking.php. 5Medicare.org. Easy Exercises Seniors Can Do Indoors. Accessed October 12, 2021. https://www.medicare.org/articles/easy-exercises-seniors-can-do-indoors/. 6Activebeat. At Home Exercises For Seniors. Accessed October 12, 2021. https://www.activebeat.com/fitness/at-home-exercises-for-seniors/.