Last year was rough for people of all ages, but especially seniors. The COVID-19 pandemic created a health risk for anyone who went out in public or spent time around others. Meanwhile, social distancing forced many older adults to stay home. Remaining indoors can limit activity options and even encourage a sedentary lifestyle.
As we begin 2021, we have to be aware of these concerns. There is a light at the end of this long tunnel. In the meantime, every senior citizen should evaluate their current situation and make changes to live a healthy lifestyle no matter where they are.
Pinnacle Peak Assisted Living Home would like to share 10 tips that will help you get a healthy start in 2021.
Track Your Physical Activity and Gradually Increase It
It’s easy to fall into a rut and reduce physical activity when you are stuck at home during social distancing. One way to avoid this setback is to track your activity daily. This is a good idea all the time, but especially when travel is limited.
There are a few ways you can do this. If you are technologically inclined, you can purchase a fitness tracker. These are devices that are usually worn on the wrist. They track lots of different stats for you, making them a valuable resource. They usually compile data so you can see your progress and look for areas that could be improved.
If you prefer the traditional approach, you can write your activity list down on paper. Include the type of activity and duration of each session.
Use this information to determine if your activity levels dropped off last year and need to be increased. When you track physical activity, it’s much easier to hold yourself accountable and make measurable changes.
Make Exercise a Group Activity with Technology
Some seniors find that exercise is better when it’s a group activity. If you miss social interactions or need someone else to keep you on track, join an online exercise group.
You can find fitness channels for seniors on YouTube or you can host a video call workout with friends or family. Some businesses and organizations offer online classes, like SilverSneakers. A quick Google search will turn up lots of options. Try searching for “online exercise group for seniors” or something similar to get started.
If you reside in an assisted living community, contact staff to find out if they offer any on-site fitness programs or workout groups.
Experiment with New Healthy Food Items
Exercise is only one part of the healthy equation. You also need to maintain a good diet. For some, social distancing freed up time to cook more. For others, it encouraged a lazier approach to eating with pre-made, boxed, or fast food options becoming a more common find in their weekly menu.
You should take this time to start eating nutritious meals. It’s a great time to experiment with new dishes. Focus on eating less pre-made and processed items. Dishes with ingredients that are closer to the source are best, like fresh fruits and vegetables.
Take Up a Hobby That Includes Movement
Exercise doesn’t have to be boring. You can find small ways to incorporate more movement into your day. Introducing a new hobby can do just that.
For example, you can skip the boring workout and instead learn how to dance! Just like exercise groups, there are many online dance classes and training videos available. It’s good for your body and can help engage your mind and need for social interaction when done as part of a virtual class.
Another option is to take up gardening. Digging, planting, and weeding requires the use of your arms and legs. You can plant herbs, fruits, and vegetables so you can grow some of the ingredients you use in your healthy menu!
Maintain Dexterity with Arts and Crafts Projects
Whole-body workouts are great, but you should also focus on smaller things like hand dexterity. Smaller, precise movements will work your fingers, wrists, and arms.
A fun way to do this is to start an art or craft project. Find something that matches your interests. If you love working with thread or cloth you can try sewing, crocheting, or knitting. Some seniors may enjoy sculpting with clay. Or you can try painting on canvas, paper, or even rocks. It’s a great time to try something new and get outside of your creative comfort zone!
Arts and crafts are a good way to maintain dexterity and also encourage imagination and creativity. Both are beneficial for mental and emotional wellness as well as cognitive skills. You may discover that you have a hidden talent you never realized was there!
Include Weight Training in Your Workout Routine
Along with aerobic activities, it’s also good for seniors to work on muscle tone. Strong muscles will help you stay mobile and can decrease fall risks.
You don’t need expensive workout equipment to build muscle. You can do so with a simple set of weights or even using your own body weight or objects around your home. Remember to start light and slowly work your way up.
Don’t Forget to Include Balance Exercises
Balance exercises are a great addition to your weight training because they also improve stability and reduce fall risk.
These should be easy, low-impact exercises that are based on your ability. A simple method is to stand up and perform heel raises. You can also stand on one foot. Hold onto a sturdy object like furniture if you need support.
If you are unsteady when standing, you can instead perform seated exercises. Sit down and try leg reaches, rotate your trunk, or march in place while sitting. Other balance-friendly workouts include Pilates, Yoga, and Thai Chi. These can improve your flexibility, leg strength, and range of motion.
Go Outdoors When the Weather is Agreeable
Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to remain indoors all the time. On nice days, make a point to spend some time outside in your yard or a nearby park. Just remember to stay away from other people and bring a mask if needed. Fresh air and sunshine are good for your health and can uplift your mood. Going outdoors also encourages you to walk and move around, even if it is a short jaunt around your yard or to the mailbox and back.
Know When to Push Through a Workout and When to Stop
Physical improvement requires effort, and you may have to push through on occasion. Before you get started, you should know when to push and when to stop.
One indication is your ability to speak. If you can talk but not sing while exercising, then you are most likely ok. If you can’t talk, then you are pushing too hard and should stop.
Also, remember to have any safety measures in place as needed. For example, if you have difficulty with balance, have something close by to lean on or perform exercises while sitting down.
If you plan to go for a walk, make sure you bring water, your mobile phone, and a form of ID in case of emergencies.
Stay in Touch with Your Doctor, Even When Social Distancing
Stay in touch with your doctor, even while social distancing. They will know the most about your physical status and ability and can recommend exercises that are ideal for you. If you notice any sudden changes in your body, strength, or balance, seek medical advice right away.
Pinnacle Peak Senior Living wants all seniors to enjoy a happy, healthy 2021. Return to our blog for information on senior care or visit our website to learn more about our services.