Exercising in winter: Tips for seniors

Exercising in winter
It’s tough to get outside and get some exercise when the snow is blowing, the temperatures are frigid and the sidewalks are slippery.

If the great outdoors aren’t looking so great, there are other options. You can head to the mall and walk to your heart’s content, on your own or in a group. Or you can head to your local community centre which likely offers a good selection of fitness classes, such as water aerobics (good for the joints), yoga, dance and Tai Chi.

The slow, meditative movements of Tai Chi have been found to be helpful coping with the symptoms of four common chronic conditions — cancer, heart failure, osteoarthrithis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Not only that, but activities like Tai Chi also help improve mood, as does getting out of the house and socializing.

At home, if you live in an apartment building, you can walk the halls and climb the stairs. Exercise DVDs are also a good option, as are virtual reality computer-based technologies such as Nintendo’s Wii. Studies have shown that they have a positive effect on balance and their benefits are at least comparable to other exercise programs.

If your mobility is more restricted due to a chronic health condition, you can get creative at home. Use a chair to do side leg lifts and squats; grab a soup can to get in some bicep curls. Resistance bands are also a great option – they’re cheap and easy to use, and help maintain muscle strength as we get older.

Exercise is an important component of the health coaching patients receive by phone through Telehomecare, a program that provides simple-to-use equipment for the home to enable the remote monitoring of vital signs by a specially trained clinician.

An initiative of the Ontario Telemedicine Network, Telehomecare is available to patients with COPD or congestive heart failure. To learn more, patients and family caregivers can visit www.ontariotelehomecare.ca or call 1.855.991.8191.