As the winter ushers in colder weather, shorter days, and less sunlight, many seniors experience a decline in motivation to stay active. The winter blues, clinically diagnosed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can completely drain your energy, leaving you feeling moody and disinterested in the activities you usually enjoy. Despite the cold weather, your body needs exercise to activate health benefits such as lowered blood pressure and blood glucose, improved sleep and mood, and less fatigue and joint pain.
Use these 3 easy ways to boost your mood and keep your body mobile during the winter:
Wear Good Winter Gear
Cooler weather shouldn’t keep you from enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. Always dress appropriately for the colder temps – layer up and be sure to cover your head, neck, and face to shield yourself from exposure to the wind and cold. Wear shoes with proper traction to prevent unwanted slips or falls. Harmful sun rays are also still a factor in the winter, so don’t forget your sunscreen and sunglasses for added UV protection. Check your weather forecast regularly and always use caution and your best judgment when taking your activity outdoors.
Set S.M.A.R.T Winter Fitness Goals
Don’t let your health goals go cold this season. Ask yourself: “What fitness goals do I want to accomplish before winter is over? Whether you want to lose 10 pounds or see an increase in flexibility and mobility, setting S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based) with your doctor and licensed physical therapist can help motivate you to get there. The SMART method “helps to incorporate guidance and realistic direction in goal setting, which increases motivation and leads to better results in achieving lasting change.” With your doctor’s approval to exercise, you will be able to hit your lifestyle and health targets in no time, no matter the weather.
Get Creative with Your Exercise
The most important thing to do is move your body! According to the World Health Organization, “older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or do at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week.” Walking, whether it be around your neighborhood, at a local park, or a community center track, is a great low-impact activity option because it helps reduce the risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes, keeping the body physically strong and improving balance and coordination. If the weather becomes snowing or rainy, you can walk at the mall or if you’re feeling fancy, take a dance or swim class at your local gym. Also, talk to your physical therapist about creating a custom, at-home workout routine for the days you are unable to leave home, but still want to get in a good workout.
With thoughtful planning and determination, winter can be the season you truly look forward to while maintaining a strong, healthy body at any age. Be accountable to yourself, stay consistent, and the results will follow. Happy Moving!
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