During the winter season– and especially for elderly individuals and people who live with limited mobility– it is easy to lose the motivation that is so often needed to keep us moving. With snow and ice-covered roads, it is challenging to operate a manual wheelchair or take your rollator walker around the block. However, maintaining even a bit of physical activity is a crucial tool for living life to the fullest– and healthiest extent.
Some ideas for remaining active during the cold months are:
Invest in an exercise peddler: Portable mini-cycles are foldable and can be stored under your bed or sofa. They are an excellent way for you to exercise your legs or arms in the comfort of your own home. Just place the peddler in front of the couch as you watch your favourite show or read a book, and pedal away! Your leg and abdominal muscles, as well as your cardio and blood circulation will thank you. For arm use, place peddler over a table.
- Use resistance bands: Resistance bands are an economical and safe way of adding some weight to upper body exercises at home. Whereas heavy hand weights can pose an injury risk for seniors, resistance bands are soft and flexible. The level of effort one must input is determined by each individual.
- Lift your groceries: This is a quick and easy alternative to hand weights and resistance bands. Instead of storing your groceries right away, try taking a little more time to lift and lower the items as you organize them in your pantry and fridge. The weight of those items- like canned beans or a 1L carton of milk, can give your arm muscles the challenge they need to stay strong.
- Get out to the mall: Transportation services like Toronto’s Wheel-Trans, can get you over to the mall when it isn’t safe for you to go outside on your own. Mall hallways — especially during early morning hours– are a great place for exercising with your manual wheelchair, rollator or walker.
- Use the stairs: Steps can be great exercise tools that adapt to different mobility and fitness levels. If you can climb steps– even if slowly– you can try going up and down one or more flights of stairs every day. If your range of mobility is more limited, you can find support in the stair handrails and practice going up and down a single step repeatedly. This will strengthen your leg muscles and bring up your heart rate.
Not only is winter-time exercise crucial for your physical well-being, but adding movement to your daily routine can help you combat depression (including the winter blues). In addition, you can add a social aspect to your daily exercise by making arrangements to exercise with a friend and/or neighbour. You won’t only be preventing feeling down but you will also avoid feeling isolated when it is hard to get outside.