Winter Workouts for Seniors
As temperatures dip closer to freezing, it gets tougher to lace up those sneakers for a morning walk. Getting to the gym in harsh winter weather can be a real chore – but you shouldn’t stop exercising just because it’s cold out. It’s time to take your workout indoors.
Each workout should have three essential components:
- Strength and endurance training, to help protect bones from injury and osteoporosis
- Aerobics to get the blood circulating and strengthen the heart
- Core exercises to increase stability and balance
By structuring your routine to have all three of these elements, activities like lifting your grandkids or playing with them at the park will be more fun and less exhausting!
Build leg strength by doing ‘wall-sits’
Placing your back against the wall and your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees to a 90-degree angle… and hold that pose for 15 seconds. Keeping your back against the wall, rise slowly, then return into the sitting position. Repeat three times. Aim for 10 reps. As you improve, increase your time in the sitting position to 30 seconds. If you’d like to add some variation, try doing wall-sits using a stability ball.
Push-ups and curl-ups increase endurance
Push-ups condition your muscles to work longer before tiring. If floor push-ups are too tough, try this alternative: keeping your back straight and your abs tight, push your weight off the wall or kitchen counter.
Curl-ups are a variation of sit-ups. Place your arms at your sides with your palms on the floor. Raise your shoulder blades up and off the floor while pressing the small of your back downward.
Resistance bands build strength and balance
Most of us don’t have room for a weight machine at home, but resistance bands can provide a handy alternative in a pinch. There are a broad range of strength training exercises that can be accomplished with resistance bands – and you’ll be gaining coordination, stability and balance as you use them. Taking a winter vacation? Toss them into the suitcase so you don’t lose the momentum you’ve gained at home!
Switch on the music and dance!
Before proceeding with any new exercise, it’s absolutely essential to check with your physician before committing to any new fitness regimen. Once you’ve got the go-ahead, start with 10 minutes per day. Elevate your heart rate to the target rate for your age. The maximum heart rate for a 50 year old is 170 beats per minute. For every year you are above 50, subtract one bpm. Your target rate should be between 50 and 80 percent of that maximum. Staying within your target range will give you the greatest benefit from your workout.
Aerobic activity can include anything from jogging in-place to dancing in the living room. The important thing is to maintain your target heart rate for at least ten minutes. Setting your body in motion will result in more energy, sounder sleeping, and an overall sense of well-being.
Remember: don’t let the weather hold you back! if you’re a member of a retirement community or live in a seniors’ apartment, round up a few friends and schedule a weekly workout you can all do together.