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5 ways older people can keep active in winter months

4th October 2016

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

Keeping active in the winter months during later life can become tricky for some, especially those with aches, pains and illnesses. Although it is essential to keep warm throughout the year, during winter it is crucial to keep as insulated and wrapped up as possible.

Joining in on activities with friends and family throughout the festive period can keep your health in check, whether that’s a 20-minute walk in the fresh air or a game of charades in front of the fire. Not only can exercise boost your immune system to prevent illness and infections over the winter, but it can also contribute to a healthier and happier mind-set.  

 

We have created a resource of activities for older people to take inspiration from leading up to winter. Although these can be completed on your own, we always recommend taking part in group activities with friends so you can enjoy the experience together and share some of your active tips with those close to you. 

Walking 

 

Probably the most obvious go-to choice of activity for those who like to get out in the fresh air, but luckily for those who may find walking a bit of a struggle, getting your shoes on for a 20-minute walk every day is far better than not at all. Whether that means going to collect milk from the shop with your four-legged companion or walking to the café to meet friends for a hot cup of tea and cake, walking is a free and effective activity to take part in.

Why not gather a few of your friends or member of your family to join in with you? Having people by your side can make it that extra bit enjoyable. It is advised that you wear suitable clothing especially in the winter when the pavements and roads are prone to ice. Trainers or walking boots are recommended to provide extra grip and support for the joints and make sure to wear many layers, gloves, hat and scarf for extra warmth. 

Playing with the grandchildren 

 

Not only do grandchildren bring happiness, joy and excitement to the family circle, but they also provide the best entertainment and exercise for grandparents. Without you knowing, you are running around playing hide and seek within the home using your stairlift, or playing with remote controlled toys which have been given as Christmas presents and these activities can all contribute to keeping active in the winter months.

As the children get older, activities such as trying out the brand new bike given as a Christmas gift will allow you to get out into the fresh air and give you the satisfaction of watching your grandchildren grow up and learn new skills. 

Strength exercises

 

Keeping your muscle strength maintained not only throughout winter but as you age is important to prevent Sarcopenia, dramatic loss in muscle mass and strength. As you age hormonal changes can influence the way in which your body reacts to illnesses, viruses and infections, as well as the intensity at which you can participate in exercise and activity. Maintaining optimum strength throughout the body will also reduce risk of falls, which is unfortunately a common occurrence in later life and during the winter. The interactive guide for the best strength exercises is a fantastic resource for those looking to gain strength for the months ahead.   

Swimming

 

Image Credit: Local Fitness Australia (Wikimedia Commons)

A favourite amongst older people, swimming is a versatile and worthwhile activity to take part in during the winter. With most swimming pools across the UK open in the run up to Christmas and a few days after, individuals are able to socialise with their friends whilst doing good for their health.

As a non-weight-bearing exercise, swimming is an all-round great recreational activity and helps maintain both the cardiovascular and skeletomuscular systems. Classes such as aqua aerobics are a great example of how swimming can be fun and easy, with an instructor and music to follow along to.

My Ageing Parent explains that swimming is “a great exercise for an ageing population, who are increasingly likely to have had back, knee and hip surgery.” As water buoyancy supports the weight of the individual, the risk of injury is minimal as there is less strain on joints.

If you are lucky enough to have a swimming complex with a hot tub or Jacuzzi, then most certainly make use of it! The hot, bubbling water can help gently massage the muscles after swimming, leaving you feeling invigorated and refreshed. 

Adult colouring books

 

Image Credit: Jenn Gaylor (Wikimedia Commons)

Adult colouring books have become a hit with older adults in the past couple of years, as the peaceful activity that requires concentration leads to mindfulness – a practice to seek relaxation in today’s busy world. Bustle.com have created a list of how adult colouring book will make your life a whole lot brighter.

With intricate patterns and complex designs, many adult colouring books offer the older individual a sense of escapism that focuses on their creative ability, resulting in a beautifully coloured picture. This is an activity that doesn’t require too much physical exertion, but will require mental concentration and patience, so wrap up warm by the fire and delve into colouring bliss!