Health experts recommend exercise to stay healthy and boost immunity. Exercise maintains mental health by decreasing stress, and some studies show that mild to moderate exercise also boosts immunity. However, seniors are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, which has many of them staying home and practicing social distancing. Still, seniors who are currently staying in because of the coronavirus emergency can keep moving at home. Here are some ways for seniors to stay active during self-isolation.
When group activities such as walking clubs and exercise classes are put on hold indefinitely, taking a long break from exercise can be tempting. Don’t. Technology makes it possible to maintain social connection and keep up an exercise routine at home. If you hadn’t already been regularly exercising, that’s ok—just create a routine that keeps you moving.
Movement can sometimes be a challenge for seniors. Take an inventory of your day and figure out ways to add tiny bits of movement to everything you do. If you need to sit, move your arms up and down. If you’re watching TV, stand up and do a few gentle squats. Your body weight provides resistance, so try a few standing pushups by placing your hands against a wall and pushing yourself away from it. All those canned goods you purchased to keep you going during your self-isolation period can double as weights for a few curls.
To keep in touch with family and friends, try one of the many video chat apps available, from FaceTime to Zoom. Your phone may support video calls as well. As for exercise, YouTube is full of free exercise routines for all abilities and levels of fitness, from relaxing yoga and stretching to workouts with dumbbells or resistance bands.
Make Your Home Your Gym and Set a Routine
You may not have noticed how much you move around your own home every day. Take note of when you’re up and cooking, doing laundry, sweeping the floor, or—if your home has stairs and you can safely use them—how many times a day you go up and down. Set a daily routine that has you visiting every room in the house at a specified time each day, and assign a movement to that room. The movement doesn’t have to be strenuous or challenging—every little bit counts! Try doing a gentle dance, a few side bends, or squats.
Keep your mind engaged with hobbies you enjoy, from knitting to woodworking to painting. Just gathering your supplies and setting up your workspace gets you moving, and creating your project keeps your mind agile and engaged. Do a crossword or jigsaw puzzle, or spend some time with a brainteaser book or website.
For Those with Limited Mobility
Don’t be discouraged if you have limited mobility. Doing seated workouts at home can provide movement and invigorate circulation. The National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life website has some videos that instruct you how to use chairs for support and for upper body exercise. Raising your arms and lifting your legs will get your blood pumping. If you use a walking cane, be attentive to safety and proper use of the cane to get around your home. Your local senior center and agencies that serve elders will have more suggestions for ways to stay active and engaged during the time you must stay home to avoid COVID-19.