We still have a few cold Wisconsin winter months left, and that most likely means more time spent on the couch in front of the TV. Everyone knows that exercise is important to our health. The challenge, especially for seniors, is staying active during the winter and staying safe.
Adopt a Wisconsin winter perspective
Face the facts. Unless you have a second home in Florida, the next few months will be cold at times. So, make a plan to be active indoors and enjoy the outdoors when the weather is not so bad. Plenty of winter days in W isconsinare sunny and fairly temperate. Dress warm and have some time outside with the grandkids. If there is fresh snow, have a snowball fight or make a snowman. It may not equal a mile walk on a treadmill but it can be much more fun.
Visit the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory – The Domes
At some point in January or February, most of us dream of
escape to a warmer climate.
Milwaukeeans have great escape right in town at The Domes. Stroll around the tropical dome and take a mini-vacation. Admission for Milwaukee County residents over 60 is just $5 and free on Mondays.
Head to a local shopping mall
People of all ages use area shopping malls as a place to take a brisk walk with friends. Most malls open a few hours before the stores open and many walkers time their walks so they can grab a cup of coffee before they leave. Mayfair Mall has a Mileage Club as an exercise incentive and offers free pedometers. Walk with a buddy or go and make new friends.
Check out fitness programs at senior centers
The Aging Resource Center of Milwaukee County runs fitness programs for people over 50 at five senior centers around the county. Staffed with professionals from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Health Sciences, these centers offer a safe environment for older adults to learn how to improve strength and flexibility. (Always talk to your doctor about starting a new fitness program if you have any chronic conditions.) Download MCDA_WellnessWorks_2012_update about Wellness Works at the centers.
Waukesha County Parks and Recreation Department has a variety of exercise classes designed specifically for older adults. The link to their online activity guide can be found here.
Workout at home
It is possible to get a good workout at home without the pricey equipment and stay safe. The challenge for most of us is to just do it. For an older adult who has been inactive or is recovering from an injury it is often suggested to begin a routine of exercises using a chair. (Always consult a doctor before starting to workout if you have any injuries, illnesses or medical conditions.) For added safety, have a family member be with you in your first sessions. Read Exercises using a chair for some ideas to get started.
For more active seniors, there are plenty of good exercise DVDs that offer a variety of routines featuring, yoga, Tai Chi, and strength training using common items found at home. Or check out our local PBS Channel 36 which has a great exercise programs including, "Sit and Be Fit" currently on in the morning at 8:30 am. If you live in a multi-level home, using the stairs several times a day is great exercise. For safety, avoid carrying awkward loads and use the handrails.
Spend time with others
Exercise is important, but staying social during the winter months is vital. It becomes too easy to stay indoors and isolated waiting for spring to arrive. Seniors who move into a senior living residence like any Laureate Group community quickly realize how easy it is to stay active especially when winter delivers its worst.