Staying Well in 2021
On January 1, many people welcomed 2021 with open arms and a smidge of optimism. People of all ages are mentally drained from the stresses of the pandemic. Physically, we’re also dragging a bit, having been cut off from many of the activities that kept us moving. This may be especially so for the older people in our lives.
Besides the effects of COVID-related restrictions, there’s the cold winter weather limiting older people’s movement. Still, older people should be encouraged to engage in as much physical activity as they can muster. Physical fitness doesn’t just improve our immunity and our mental health. It also improves our ability to recover from any injuries or illnesses we do experience, and better prepares us for any physical therapy we may need in recovery.
There are many ways older people can incorporate movement and exercise into their daily lives. As the National Council on Aging (NCOA) notes, we should all engage in four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance and flexibility. Fortunately, even some household chores, like cleaning, can help! Some movement is much better than none at all.
No need for anyone to go all Jane Fonda with Lycra and acrobat poses – although wearing leg warmers might be fun! Keep it simple. After checking with their doctor first, an older adult can try to work activities like these into their daily life:
- Endurance: Climbing stairs, dancing, and walking. During the pandemic, people of all ages have taken to walking laps around their house.
- Strength: Lifting weights (books or canned food work fine), lunges, and even vacuuming.
- Balance: Steady yourself at a wall to balance on one foot. Try walking heel-to-toe – which can also be done near a wall for safety. “Get up during every commercial on TV and do an active chore or march in place,” the NCOA suggests.
- Flexibility: Stretching, yoga, dusting, doing laundry.
Think of any movement as something that contributes to your physical health. “Sit less. Move more,” says the NCOA. “If possible, taking a walk outside is a great way to stay active and enjoy the benefits of fresh air and sunshine.” Older adults who go outside during the winter should remember to wear warm clothes and appropriate shoes – plus wear a mask and maintain 6 feet of distance from other people.
Maintaining physical abilities is a key part of aging well. At LifeCare Advocates, we can provide activity guidance based on needs and abilities, help ensure the home allows for safe movement, and help with in-home recovery from illness or injury. Contact us today.