Five Tips for Staying Warm and Healthy this Winter

elder woman dressed in warm clothes holding a cup of coffee

Many of us use winter as an excuse to stop exercising, stay indoors and maybe even isolate ourselves from others. This is a bad idea. Both physical activity and staying socially active are essential elements in aging well. But winter can present a greater chance of falling, due to icy sidewalks and streets, making staying engaged in life more of a challenge. But with a little planning and following these tips, you should be able to stay warm, happy and healthy this winter.

Stay as active as weather allows

Don’t let cold weather keep you from getting out and getting some exercise. Staying physically active can help keep your muscles strong, which reduces your risk of falling. If your healthcare provider gives you the okay, try out winter sports such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Head to your local senior center to take a yoga or tai chi class. Call up a friend and go bowling. By staying active, you’ll not only feel better in the short term, you’ll be laying the groundwork for many long-term benefits as well.

Keep in touch with friends and family

The winter holidays can trigger feelings of loneliness for many seniors. Seeing others taking part in traditions they’re no longer able to participate in can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation. Additionally, cold weather may keep many seniors indoors, making contact with others less likely. That’s why it’s essential for seniors to find ways to become – and stay – engaged with others during the holidays. So make socializing a priority. Make a date with a friend to see a movie or play. If you’re unable to get out because of a health condition, invite people over for coffee or tea. If all else fails, get and your computer and connect with others online.

Break out your sweaters

Dressing warmly is an obvious but important way to stay warm this winter. As temperatures drop, hypothermia becomes a real concern for older Americans. Be sure and include a covering for your head and hands, which can lose a lot of heat. It’s always a good idea to dress in layers, so that you can remove articles of clothing as needed – or keep snuggled up in your favorite sweater. Not everyone keeps their thermostats turned up as high as what may be comfortable for you. Make sure and wear shoes with good traction and nonskid soles. If this doesn’t work with your outfit, carry the shoes you’ll be wearing at your destination.

Take precautions if you travel

Listen for radio or TV reports of travel advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Avoid travel in low visibility and on ice-covered roads. Avoid icy sidewalks at all costs, as falls are always a concern. If you must travel in ice or snow, let someone know your destination and when you expect to arrive. Bring a mobile phone with you.

Maintain a healthy diet

Eating healthfully during wintertime can be challenging – overindulging at holiday parties and events, a shrinking availability of many fresh fruits and vegetables, gifts of holiday cookies, pies and fruitcakes, and an inability to get out as easily can all contribute to eating less healthfully. It’s so much easier to order in a pizza than to head out into the cold to buy groceries. But with a little planning, you can stock up on more healthful choices and enjoy them throughout the season.

Categories: Senior Health