Being cooped up in the house all day is one of the negative side effects of winter. This doesn’t mean your senior loved one can’t be safe and healthy, however. Winter exercise and proper eating habits are essential at any time of the year. There are many options for staying active throughout the cold months, with a variety of indoor exercises.
Strengthening and improving balance is especially important for seniors who may be at risk of falling. One in three seniors fall every year, which can have catastrophic effects on their health and wellbeing. By training certain muscles, you can help your loved one prevent falls while keeping their cardiovascular system strong and healthy.
1. Wall Pushups
A standard pushup with a twist.
Instructions: With outstretched arms, place your palms firmly on the wall shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows to bring your torso closer to the wall. Extend your arms and push yourself back up to a standing position. Repeat ten times. For more of a challenge, move your feet further away from the wall to create a “lean.”
- Strengthens upper body.
- Strengthens calves.
2. Heel Raises
Easy to do anytime, anywhere.
Instructions: Stand next to a wall and place one hand on the wall for balance. Raise your heels while remaining on the balls of your feet. Repeat 15 times. If this is too much of a challenge, sit on a chair and raise your heels in the same fashion.
- Strengthens upper calves.
3. Marching on the Spot
Just like a soldier! Sir, yes, sir.
Instructions: From a standing position, bend your elbows while keeping them at your side with your palms facing down. Raise your right leg to touch your knee to your right hand. Switch to raise your left knee to your left hand. Repeat this 12 times with each leg. If balance is an issue for you, brace yourself against a wall.
- Increases balance from shifting weight.
- Strengthens lower body.
It’s time for a bit of cardio—throw on some tunes and get that heart pumping.
Instructions: From a standing position with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, bring your left leg over your right leg and transfer your weight onto your left leg. Step your right leg out to the side and transfer your weight to your right leg. Step your left leg behind your right leg and transfer your weight to your left leg again. Instead of extending your right leg this time, bring your feet together while jumping and add a clap. Repeat ten times going each direction.
- Strengthens heart by increasing heartrate.
- Tightens and tones glutes.
5. Point and Flex
Has your senior loved one been sitting for a while? This exercise will help get the blood flowing back into the lower body.
Instructions: This exercise can be done either while lying down or sitting in a chair. Simply point and flex your feet to get the blood flowing. Do this ten times, then alternate pointing one foot and flexing the other at the same time.
If you’re looking to spice up this exercise, include a turnout as well. Point the feet regularly, then while pointed, turn the muscles out so the heels are still touching but the toes are away from one another. Flex the feet while still turned out then bring them together (still flexed). Return to your first pointed position. Hold each of these four positions for five seconds and repeat this cyclic motion 20 times.
- Stretches your calves.
- Strengthens your arches.
- Increases circulation to lower extremities.
Before making any serious changes to your senior loved one’s exercise routine, make sure to consult their doctor first. You don’t want to push them too far and risk an injury. Consulting a physician should always be the first step when making any changes to your loved one’s routine.