Categories
Active Aging

5 Indoor Exercises And Activities To Enjoy This Winter

Get moving! Moving your body is one of the easiest ways to boost your mood and strengthen your muscles. Finding activities and exercises that you enjoy doing will not only put an extra skip in your step, but it’ll also give you the motivation to make them part of your everyday routine. 

Motivation doesn’t magically appear as you’re laying in bed wrapped up like a cocoon. You need to get yourself up and do something–preferably something you enjoy! 

Here are 5 fun indoor activities and exercises perfect for older adults to help build and support your mental and physical well-being and repel those winter blues.

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1. Walking

Walking is an easy and effective exercise that’s great for all ages, and you don’t need any equipment besides a good pair of shoes…or if you’re Nancy Sinatra…boots! (“These boots are made for walking…”)

You should aim for about 20 minutes of walking per day. Just enough to increase your heart rate and get that blood pumping!

Don’t have a lot of room indoors? Not a problem! If you have a treadmill, that’s fantastic, but you don’t need one. You can have some fun and map a route around your house! 

Use your indoor environment to your advantage, go up and down the stairs, round the couch, bookshelf, bed, have some fun and change it up every day–giving yourself new obstacles to go around.

2. Grab A Chair

For this exercise, all you need is a chair. Seriously, you’d be surprised at all the exercises you can do with an ordinary chair. 

From simple stretching movements like neck and ankle rotations to balancing on one leg to the challenging one leg squat – you’re bound to find something that piques your interest and poses a challenge.

Please make sure you have a sturdy chair on an even, non-slip surface. You can start with heel raises and then progress to stretching out your upper back and, eventually, balancing on one leg. Find something that you’re comfortable with but also that challenges you. In addition, this is a great way to relieve tension in your back and neck and is a wonderful warm-up for other exercises. For more specific instructions on various movements, visit here.

3. Play Video Games

This one may seem strange, but stick with us! Video games can be an excellent way to get in a good mental and physical workout. The Nintendo Wii comes with a fun assortment of games – tennis, bowling, baseball, and yoga, just to name a few.

Even if you aren’t familiar with how the Wii works, it simply takes a bit of practice to learn how it all works. Caregivers at senior centers and assisted living facilities have reported that seniors love the Wii, and it can even help improve balance, which reduces the chance of suffering a fall.

You can find a Nintendo Wii at major retailers like Walmart and Amazon, or check your local resale sites. There are also many accessories and different types of remotes that you’ll want to add on. 

Video games aren’t just for the kids and grandkids, have some fun and get your game on!

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4. Use Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are great for strength exercises and only require your bodyweight to build muscle and bone density. They’re inexpensive, easy to store, and incredibly versatile.

You can do bicep curls, shoulder walks, leg extensions, chest presses, and other movements – all while catching up on your favourite show! Here is a visual guide on resistance band exercises. 

5. Take On A New Hobby

Mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness. From reading to mastering a new language or learning how to paint, there are endless amounts of activities that provide mental stimulation, entertainment, and engagement.

Always wanted to learn Japanese but never found the time? Want to cook your way through Julia Child’s recipes? Want to learn more about your family history with genealogy research? 

There are countless resources available that can help you finally dive into the activity you can’t stop thinking about. Find courses and videos online or check out countless how-to books from your local library, and you’ll be well on your way to finding joy with a fun new hobby!

Winter months can be tough for many people, regardless of age. It’s important to stay active and do something every day that improves your mental and physical health. Discover what sparks joy and motivates you, and do that!

Categories
Active Aging

Simple Mental Workouts to Keep Calm and Relaxed

You know the feeling you get when you’re sucked into a puzzle, or when you really get into a good book? That’s the relaxation that comes when you allow your mind to take its focus off the everyday stressors and enjoy a new, rewarding effort. 

These important mental exercises can be anything from solving a brain teaser to focusing on a simple mind-body connection like counting your breaths. Mental exercise is just as important and satisfying as physical exercise for our overall well-being. It’s the equivalent of a nice long walk to stretch your legs. 

We’ve put together a collection of mental exercises that can bring a calm relaxation to the end of your day, all while giving your mind a nice workout. Our tips fall under three categories: meditation, puzzles, and relaxation techniques.

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Meditation 

Meditation, regardless of type or style, has been scientifically proven to benefit mental focus and emotional health. 

  • Guided Meditations

Especially for those new to meditating, guided meditations are a great option. A “guide” will talk you through the process of meditating and offer suggestions for your focus. These meditations are often accompanied by music or calming ambient sounds like a burbling spring or quiet forest sounds. For a selection of free and topic-specific guided meditations, try an app like Headspace or a site like Mindful.org.

  • Self-guided (or Unguided) Meditation

If listening to someone tell you how to meditate is not relaxing, then self-guided (or unguided) meditation is your ticket. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started on your self-guided practice.

One meditation technique is to count your breaths. Inhale, count one, exhale, count one, up to ten breaths. Then repeat. Set a timer for yourself so you can relax into the moment and into your breath. 

  • Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is a nice change of pace (literally) from seated meditation. In this type of meditation, you focus on the sensation of each slow step. Focus on the breath and the connection of your foot to the earth. This style is particularly effective in bringing together your mind and body in a calm, peaceful activity.

Puzzles 

The variety of puzzles available today is just astounding–from table-filling jigsaws and paper and ink puzzle books to apps on your phone, there’s a puzzle out there to absorb any mind and give it the space to relax.

  • Brain Teasers

Brain teasers used to come in a strip at the back of the newspaper, but they’re just as accessible even if you haven’t gotten a physical paper for years. Whether online or in a book or magazine, brain teasers are a great way to challenge your mind, inspire creativity, and build mental agility. Pick up your old favourites like Sudoku or a crossword, or try some of these individual brain teasers

  • Physical Puzzles 

For those who relish working with their hands, physical puzzles offer that mental/physical connection. Pick up a Rubik’s cube or a puzzle box, and flip the puzzle over in your hands to work out its solution.

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Relaxation Techniques 

Relaxation techniques are designed to slow down your mind and sometimes bring awareness to your body or breath.

  • Relaxation for Sleep

When trying to get to sleep, count backward from 500. Yes, it’s a large number, but that’s by design. You won’t be worried about reaching zero and having to start over. And it will take just enough focus to stay on track that you won’t slip into reciting a memorized set of numbers.

  • Mental Body Scan

Start at one end of your body and mentally “check-in” with each body part on your way to the other end. For example, start at your toes and notice how they’re feeling. Move to your ankles, then calves, your knees, etc. For each spot, focus there just long enough to notice, then move on. When you’ve completed the whole body scan, see if it helped you relax. For another variation, tense and then relax the muscles in those body parts as you scan them. By the time you reach the end, you’ll probably feel much calmer than when you began.

These exercises are sure to help your mind settle in and find renewed calm. Pick and choose from these techniques, or try them all. No matter the combination, your mind and body will benefit from the relaxation.

Categories
Women's Health

Keep Working Out In the Winter With These 6 Tips

Fitness is a year-round journey, but one that can be made more challenging by colder weather. While it may be tempting to put off your exercise habits until it starts to warm up outside, abandoning your fitness routine (even temporarily) can make it nearly impossible to get back to where you want to be physically when you do decide to resume. 

Below are some tips to safely keep up your exercise habits in winter weather so you can stay on track.

Bundle Up

If you’re used to running or jogging outdoors, don’t let the colder weather stop you from this cardio exercise that’s great for your whole body. Wear leggings or loose jogging pants (your body will gradually heat up as you run despite the cold) and thicker socks than you’d typically use while out on a run. A light jacket is also a must, as it will keep you warm without restricting your body from moving. A warm hat or earmuffs are a good idea, too. On an especially chilly morning, a pair of gloves will keep your hands warm so you can run or jog in the most comfortable way possible.

Brighten Your Wardrobe

In the winter months, not only is it colder outside, but darker too. Wear brightly coloured clothing and reflective gear to both stay warm and so drivers and pedestrians can spot you. When out at night, wearing a flashlight on your hat or at your waist is also an excellent idea for your visibility to prevent any potential slips and falls.

Take Care of Your Skin

Winter air can lead to dry and irritated skin. Make sure to apply lotion or moisturizer to your skin in addition to drinking plenty of water. Use petroleum jelly on sensitive areas of the skin such as your nostrils, the tip of your nose, and your ears for added protection. Additionally, it’s essential to remember that, even in the winter, harmful rays can reach and damage your skin. Applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher before you go outside will ensure your skin stays healthy during the dry winter months.

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Check the Forecast

If you live in an area with a lot of snow or other wintery weather, it may be best to postpone your exercise until later in the day when the sun is out and the snow or ice has had a chance to melt. This will allow for better road conditions and ensure that you’re not exercising on wet or icy sidewalks or pavement. Use your best judgment, and stay indoors during winter weather advisories or when road conditions make exercising outdoors (or driving to the gym) unsafe.

Don’t Skip the Warmup

Warming up before your workout is always a good idea, regardless of the weather. However, it’s even more important to get a good warmup before exercising in colder weather to increase your muscles’ blood flow and temperature. Modify your warmup to benefit what you plan on doing that day, whether that’s lunges and squats before running or simply stretching.

Watch Your Breathing

Breathing can feel particularly difficult while out exercising in the cold. That’s because the human body reacts to warmer, dry air much differently than the cold. In lower temperatures, airway passages tend to narrow, which makes inhalation more challenging for your lungs. While working out outdoors, try to consciously breathe in through your nose. Wrap a scarf or a light neck wrap to keep the air your breathing in moister.

Though working out in the cold is no easy feat and provides added challenges, it’s also no reason to postpone or give up on your fitness journey. Take the proper precautions and pop on the right gear, and you’ll be set for whatever the winter months may throw at you.