Seniors: Stay Active and Stay Fit During Social Distancing

May 6, 2020

We have all been told how important it is to exercise and stay active, for our overall physical and emotional wellbeing.  For seniors, regular physical activity is still so important. It is a large factor in helping you to stay independent longer by boosting your immune system and lowering your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, high blood pressure, obesity anxiety and depression. Exercise is also key to building your strength and stamina which improves balance and reduces the risk of falling. Regular activity can improve your digestive system and can help you to sleep better. The CDC recommends engaging in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

Now, more than ever, some are finding this more difficult to do. Group exercise classes and gyms are temporarily closed, parks and public settings are limiting visitors, and it is more difficult to get motivated in the stressful and unsettling environment of social distancing.

Be creative and make a plan to incorporate both physical movement and cognitive stimulation into your day. This will not only help to boost your immune system, you can positively impact your mood and stress level and may pick up some new hobbies along the way!

  • Take a walk, practicing social distancing with a friend, listening to music or a podcast on your phone or just taking in the smells and sights of spring.
  • Garden. The spring is here and now is the perfect time to work on a new garden, even plant pots of flowers on your steps or patio.
  • Take a virtual class. Many local studios are offering virtual yoga, stretching and tai chi classes that can be done from the safety of your home. If you are not technologically comfortable, take your partner and put on some music you can dance to, for a low impact and fun way to relieve stress. Or, pick up light hand weights, even soup cans, and start with a low number of repetitions.
  • Move More /Sit Less, Make it a point to get things done around your house. For example, get up during every commercial on TV and do an active chore, march in place, or climb your stairs.
  • Stay fit mentally, too. Brain puzzles, multi-tasking and creative projects can help to prevent memory decline. Activities like Sudoku and puzzles, can help keep your brain challenged and active. Hobbies like knitting, crocheting and painting are equally beneficial and help to make the day more interesting.

Exercising at home, with appropriate guidance, is generally safe and healthy. Always warm up beforehand and cool down afterward and be in tune to your body’s capabilities. Be aware of your environment; make sure you are in reach of a counter, back of a couch, or a sturdy chair that is pushed up against a wall in case you lose your balance and need to hold on to something. Stay hydrated before, during and after exercising and wear the appropriate clothing and shoes.

Always consult with a doctor before starting any new exercise routine.

If McLean can be a resource to you regarding safe ways to stay active during this time, please call 860-658-3700.

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