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Safe ways for seniors to stay active this winter

Last Modified: February 08, 2022

Family Medicine, Sports & Exercise

senior fitness

This post was written by Jim Thurber, exercise specialist, Parkview Senior Health Services.

As we head into a third year with COVID-19 and yet another Midwestern winter, seniors can find it challenging to stay healthy and safe. Despite the many closings, event cancellations and social distancing, it’s important that seniors find a way to stay active and work some form of physical activity into their daily routines.

Our goal at the Parkview Seniors Club is to improve people’s quality of life through exercise. We like to focus on four main components or forms of training: endurance/cardio, strength, balance and flexibility. These are all part of an effective senior exercise program. Neglecting one can have a negative effect on the other components. Let’s take a closer look at each one to see how you can get the most out of your exercise routine.

No. 1 - Endurance or cardio training

Cardio is the foundation of a good senior exercise program. Besides keeping your heart healthy, it can benefit your bones, joints and brain. Walking and counting your steps, with a daily goal of 7,000-10,000 steps, is one of the best and safest ways for seniors to stay active while training their cardiovascular system. Also, mild winter days are great for outside walking. However, if the weather doesn’t cooperate, and it’s too cold, snowy, or icy, remember to keep moving inside your home until you reach your daily step count.

No. 2 - Strength training

You can regain and increase strength while preventing further muscle loss by strength training 2-3 times a week. However, it’s best to avoid strength training two days in a row. Taking a break or rest day between sessions will allow your muscles to rebuild. Also, you don’t have to lift a lot of weight to get results. And, if using weight machines at a fitness center isn’t feasible, try using resistance bands and/or light dumbbells in your home routine.

No. 3 - Balance training

Balance training is probably the most neglected aspect of senior fitness. Your sense of balance will deteriorate as you age unless you incorporate these types of exercises into your routine. A few minutes of daily balance exercises can help improve your stability and prevent debilitating or fatal falls.

No. 4 - Flexibility training

Yes, you read that right. Good old-fashioned stretching exercises often get overlooked, but they can help loosen tight joints and muscles and prevent future injuries. If done correctly and regularly, they can be highly beneficial and help you feel better.

Getting started

To help everyone stay healthy and safe this winter, the Parkview Seniors Club will be offering weekly virtual exercise classes for seniors. The virtual classes will also be recorded and available on-demand to watch at your convenience. For more information on the Parkview Seniors Club, please call 260-373-7592 or complete the enrollment form to get started.

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