When it’s freezing outside and a cold drizzle is pelting the windows, the thought of huddling under a blanket with a hot cup of cocoa and your favorite movie seems like a good idea. But as attractive as that sounds, hibernating until spring isn’t good for your health unless you’re a bear. We humans need to stretch our limbs and use our brains to stay healthy and happy, especially when the weather keeps us inside.
For ways to get moving and engaged when it’s dreary and cold outside, consider these fun winter activities for seniors. You’re bound to find something on our list to banish the winter blues.
1. Break a sweat — Experts recommend older adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week. One easy way to do that is to join an exercise class at the gym. But if you’re wary of working out with others in an enclosed space, you can still work out at home. Check out these workout videos and chair exercises you can do at home. Regular exercise helps keep you active, on your feet and mentally alert. It also helps you get a good night’s sleep.
2. Swimming — No, we’re not suggesting you cut a hole in the ice and go for a Nordic dip or brave the icy surf for a polar bear swim. Find yourself a nice heated indoor pool instead. Swimming offers the same stress-relieving benefits as soaking in a bath. It’s exercise that’s easier on your joints than jogging. And it helps improve cardiovascular health, strength and flexibility. In a study of over 80,000 people, swimmers showed a 41% lower risk of death due to heart disease and stroke than nonswimmers.
3. Dancing — Moving to the groove is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body. Dancing boosts mood, improves balance, reduces joint pain and stiffness, improves cardiovascular health, and supports brain health. Instead of walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bike, why not change your routine and give dancing a whirl? It’s a great way to meet other people and make new friends.
4. Wii games — Video games like Wii Golf and Wii Bowling are the next best thing to swinging a golf club or throwing a strike. If you haven’t tried them, they’re simple to operate and loads of fun. Plus, they help improve coordination, strength and balance. Once you get the Wii bug, try out exercise programs like Wii Fit that allow you to set goals and compete against yourself or others. You’ll never look at exercise the same way again.
5. Join a book club — Book clubs are a great way to make friends and discover new authors. And with virtual book clubs like Goodreads, Now Read This and the Read for Fun Book Club, joining the conversation is easy. You could also start your own book club with friends, family and fellow bookworms.
6. Discover your roots — Do you know your family tree? If not, ask relatives what they know about your family’s history. You might be surprised by the stories you hear. In any case, you’ll build a richer picture of who you are and where you came from. If you’re wondering who shares your DNA, you could look into Ancestry.com or 23andMe. But beware, there are privacy concerns with genetic testing.
7. Get crafty — Winter is the perfect time to get creative with a craft project. And the possibilities are endless. You can make decorations for the holidays, knit a scarf or cap, arrange winter flowers, sketch or paint, make bird feeders for spring, or even stitch a quilt together square by square. You can find quilting Facebook groups, classes and quilt-alongs online or ask at your local quilt shop.
8. Play games — Card and board games are excellent ways to stay sharp and have fun. Playing chess or bridge, for example, boosts thinking skills, improves memory and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s. It also keeps you socially engaged. Even classic board games like Scrabble and Monopoly can help relieve stress and combat memory loss and depression.
A Full Calendar of Activities Keeps Us Young
At Timber Ridge, we know how important it is to stay active and engaged, especially in winter when outdoor activities are limited. That’s why we offer a variety of fun winter activities for seniors indoors. Of course, many residents still go for their daily walks on the trails nearby. But they can come back to a warm, comfortable apartment, surrounded by friends who share their zest for life. To learn more about our vibrant, amenity-rich community, visit the Independent Living page.