Keeping fit in the winter months

Keeping fit in the winter months

By Lynda Schoettl

The road to fitness knows no season, and every day holds an opportunity to build strength, improve balance and maintain flexibility. Thirty minutes of exercise three times a week can help you maintain or build fitness and improve circulation, which will help you stay warm. At a minimum, get up and move around every 30 minutes or so.

Joints are less flexible, muscles lose strength and visual acuity and reaction time decrease with age. Combat decline with strength training and moderate cardio activity, such as walking or stair climbing. A pair of 2-3 lb. weights, resistance bands or holding a can in each hand adds resistance.

Set aside a regular time each day to exercise. Wear comfortable clothing and supportive shoes that don’t slide.

Standing/sitting exercises

Use a chair or wall for support during standing exercises for balance. Repeat each exercise 10 times, switching legs as applicable.

Bicep curls—builds arm strength

In a seated or standing position, keep arms by your side. Alternate curling arms up to shoulder. Slowly return to starting position.

Chair arm presses—works triceps muscles

While sitting in a sturdy chair, place hands on the arms on the chair and press up, use arms to lift your body to hover over the seat and return to seat.

 Chair stands—Strengthens thighs and core. Helps balance.

Place a sturdy chair against a wall. Sit, cross arms across your chest, rise to a standing position. Try not to use the chair for support. Lower down into the chair. Keep abdominals tight as you raise and lower your body. This exercise is most effective when you rise up quickly and lower down slowly.

Wall push-ups– Works chest muscles, arms, back

Stand just over one arm’s length away from the wall with feet hip width apart. Place hands flat on the wall at shoulder height and a bit wider than shoulder width. Keeping back straight, make a slow, controlled movement in four counts towards the wall, bending elbows out. Push back to standing up straight in four counts.

Knee lifts—Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings, supports knees, helps balance

Stand alongside a sturdy chair that is supported by wall (seat facing in). Hold back of chair. Lift knee to hip height, straighten leg out in front slowly. Bend knee, lower to floor. This exercise can be done while sitting.

Shoulder stretch

Stand facing a wall at a distance of one foot. Crawl fingers forward up the wall to feel a nice stretch while keeping shoulders down and back. Hold. Repeat.

Hamstring curls– Works hamstring, gluteal muscles

Holding onto a sturdy chair braced by the wall for balance, stand straight with legs shoulder width apart. Stand on one leg and curl the heel of the non-supporting leg up towards your back, release slowly.

Lateral legs lifts– Works outer thighs, gluteal muscles

Using a chair for support; lift leg out to the side as high as is comfortable in a slow controlled movement, then slowly lower leg to return to both feet on the ground.

Calf raises—strengthens and stretches calves

Using a chair for support, lift up on heel to tiptoe, then lower down. Next, lift up toes to stand on heels, and then lower toes.

Balance Builders

One leg stand

Standing close to a wall or chair, stand on one leg as long as possible. Repeat as often as you can comfortably.

Wall walk

Walk heel to toe along the length of the wall. Reverse direction.

Safety Tips
Start slowly. Warm up and cool down by stretching by moving around a bit.

Use a chair or wall for support.
Drink water before, during and after exercise.

Lynda Schoettl, a certified fitness instructor at Jefferson’s Ferry Life Plan Community, is certified in Senior Nutrition and Personal Training, and is a Fall Proof Balance and Mobility Specialist and a Functional Aging Specialist.

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