senior women on exercise bikes

When snow covers the ground and there’s a chill in the air, your regular jog around the neighborhood or walk with a friend may lose its appeal. As winter drags on, you may become more and more accustomed to staying in on the couch with a blanket rather than getting your regular workout. While this may seem harmless, months spent mostly indoors with little physical activity will hurt both your physical and mental health. Regular exercise is shown to reduce depression as well as to decrease the risk of other health problems, like heart disease and diabetes. Getting moving during the winter months may be a struggle, but these four ideas can help you to get started:

1. Go outside

This may go against your basic instincts during the winter, but sunlight and fresh air can improve your mood and your health. According to a study from the University of Tampere, exercising outdoors leads to better emotional well-being and improved sleep. You may want to go for a bike ride or a brisk walk around a park, or if you’re up to it, you can participate in winter sports, such as skiing, skating, and snow-shoeing that are both fun and rigorous workouts. Regardless of what you choose to do, if you go outside, be sure to dress appropriately in layers that will keep you warm but also pull sweat away from your body. If you have serious health concerns such as diabetes or heart problems, you should consult a doctor before exercising outdoors during the winter.

2. Join a gym

If you don’t like the cold, you may be better suited to a gym membership. Gyms memberships are generally inexpensive and are open throughout the day to accommodate your schedule. Most gyms also provide fitness classes, such as Zumba or yoga or even special classes for seniors, which offer a more structured and monitored fitness plan. These classes also create great opportunities to socialize and form friendships with other locals who will support you in staying active. If your gym has a pool, you may also want to consider swimming laps or taking a water aerobics class. Swimming is great for reducing joint pain while working out, and it’s an ideal workout for improving flexibility and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

3. Workout at home

When the weather is particularly bad or leaving the house isn’t an option, try doing a few at-home exercises. You can find routines online or work through DVD or YouTube routines in your living room. These videos are great both for their variety and their flexibility. You can choose your routine according to your mood and time constraints, and if you don’t like a particular instructor or you need more time on a particular pose, you can change the video or pause for more time.

4. Socialize

If regular workout routines aren’t your style, you may want to simply plan social activities outside of the house. Getting out to volunteer, play with grandkids, or meet with friends is a simple way to stay active emotionally and physically. Joining a book club, a knitting circle, or a dance class are all fun ways to meet with people with similar interests and to stay active. You may be surprised by how much you end up moving around without the structure of a regular exercise routine. Plus, socializing can ward off the winter blues and help you maintain close and healthy relationships with friends and family.

 

Regardless of how you choose to do it, staying active during the winter months is important for your health. Whether you ski, swim, or volunteer, be sure to find an activity that will keep you moving and healthy during the coming months.