Winter is in full swing and, as the temperatures drop, it can become more challenging to focus on staying healthy and active, especially for seniors. Many people prefer to exercise outdoors and get all the benefits of fresh air and sunshine to go along with the heart-pumping workout. But through the winter months, outdoor activities can be limited either by temperatures or by dangerous, icy conditions.
In addition, many people deal with the “winter blues” and have trouble getting motivated to even attend indoor activities. That’s why it’s so important to be mindful of your habits and how you’re feeling during the colder months of the year.
Exercise is a proven mood-booster and eating a nourishing, healthy diet can help ward off common winter colds and viruses.
With that in mind, here are five ways to keep your health a priority throughout the winter months.
- Prioritize Healthy Eating
It is easy to get caught in a cycle of making unhealthy food choices after the many sweets, treats, and feasts that occur from November to December each year. Additionally, many healthy veggies and fruit are “out of season” during this time of the year, so they can be more expensive to keep on hand for healthy snacking.
However, now is the time to make food choices that will nourish your body and keep your immune system functioning on high alert through the colder months. Shop frozen vegetables and winter fruits like cranberries, pomegranates, and citrus fruits.
Don’t forget to take your vitamins (especially vitamin C), and load up on foods naturally high in zinc, like fish, poultry, and eggs.
- Take Extra Precautions With Outdoor Exercise
If you feel up to it and your doctor gives you the “go ahead,” don’t let cold weather scare you away from getting outside for some exercise. There are many benefits to getting outside including the fresh, crisp air and getting in as much time in the sunshine as possible (which can help stave off the winter blues).
Just be sure you’re exercising safely. Wear layers and bundle up appropriately. It’s better to need to remove layers as you go than to wish you had more when you’re already a few blocks away. Check the weather before you go and be sure that all walkways are safe and clear of snow and ice. Wear sturdy shoes appropriate for the current conditions and use a walking aid, if needed.
- Soak In The Sunshine
Soaking in the sunshine is usually a phrase used to describe spring or summer months. However, getting in adequate amounts of sunshine is even more important throughout the winter months. Being in direct sunlight on a daily basis can help you sleep better and improve your mood. In fact, it can even help prevent SAD (seasonal affective disorder) and other forms of the “winter blues.” You’ll feel happier and more energetic the more time you spend in natural light every day.
You don’t even need to go outside to reap the benefits, just sit near a bright window, open your blinds, and let the sunshine in.
- Stay social.
Particularly through the winter months, many people struggle with feelings of isolation and loneliness. That’s why it’s so important to schedule regular social activities and stick with them. Even just picking up the phone to call a loved one can instantly boost your mood and fight off the winter blues.
Stay connected with coffee dates, getting outside to walk together, shopping trips, game nights, or just a long phone conversation once a week.
Another way to feel the powerful human connection is to help others you know might need it. Whether you volunteer in a soup kitchen or send flowers to someone you know is cooped up inside this winter, helping others is a surefire way to help yourself. You’ll feel incredible afterwards.
- Make Your Home Safe
If you live alone (or even if you don’t), make sure the home you’re living in is safe and prepared for winter. Be sure thermostats are never set under 65 degrees and wear light layers in your home to keep yourself warm. Hypothermia is a real danger to seniors and can occur even while indoors, so be sure to turn up the heat to a safe level this winter.
Additionally, make sure you’re prepared for every scenario that winter weather might bring, such as power outages and being confined to your home. Keep salt and a shovel at the ready to be sure walkways are clear of snow and ice.
As we age, home maintenance and preparing for winter can become a burden. Many seniors report feeling a large amount of stress at the prospect of keeping driveways and walkways clear, the home’s heating system working properly, and driving to important appointments or to the grocery store on slippery roads.
Now might be a good time to consider moving into a private apartment in an assisted living community. You can experience the joy of carefree living and never worry about clearing walkways or maintaining a heating system again.
With the right mindset and a good plan, you can stay healthy, safe, and happy throughout this winter season.
Ready to experience peace of mind in a lively assisted living community? Come home to Bellaire at Devonshire. Schedule your tour today and make plans to come out and see our beautiful community, meet our friendly team, and discover the joys of being part of our resident family. We’ll be happy to welcome you!