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Seniors should take steps to stay active during the winter

November 1, 2013

Temperatures have already started to dip at retirement communities in different parts of the country, making it increasingly difficult for older adults who are used to spending time outdoors to stay active. Aside from being uncomfortable, colder temperatures and inclement weather put seniors at risk of health issues ranging from slips and falls to hypothermia. While older adults may be less able to head outside once winter arrives, that doesn't mean they have to abandon an active lifestyle altogether. With some smart planning and the right approach, seniors can enjoy an active winter.

Clubs and organizations
Whether they are operated by retirement communities or the surrounding city, there are numerous clubs and organizations available to seniors that can help them stay active, not just during the winter, but all year long. Perhaps most appealing is the fact that there are organizations that cater to a wide variety of people. For instance, elderly individuals looking to exercise during cold weather can participate in group yoga, tai chi or water aerobics classes. Additionally, those who are more interested in keeping their mind limber can enroll in continuing education classes, book clubs or any other intellectually stimulating groups. 

Turn to technology
If the weather outside is frightful, seniors may want to take advantage of the latest technology to help them stay physically active. Video games have come a long way in the past several years, and systems such as the Nintendo Wii and Xbox Kinect are centered largely around using movement to play games. In fact, a 2012 study found that these so-called "exergames" could help seniors improve their cognitive function, CNN reported.  

Head outside when possible
While seniors may want to stay indoors during the harshest winter weather, that's not to say there won't be plenty of opportunities for them to head outdoors - it's just important that they do so wisely, the American Osteopathic Association notes. This is especially true when it comes to dressing warmly. In addition to layering, which should include fleece and a waterproof outer layer, experts say it's also crucial for seniors to cover their extremities. Above all else, older adults should focus on safe footwear with enough traction so that they don't fall on the sometimes-slippery surface.