Changing seasons significantly influences the activities we participate in. When the heat of summer bears down upon us, we like to hop in the pool and swim. In the fall and spring we may enjoy running in the crisp air—whether it’s chasing after a soccer ball or training for a marathon. Winter tends to push us indoors, forcing our reluctant bodies onto the treadmill or out on the basketball court. No matter what the activity is specifically, transitioning between seasons always seems to affect the type of activities we participate in.
Transitioning stages of life related to age or health have much the same effect on our ability to participate in certain activities. We understand that the full contact backyard football game may no longer be a viable option for your source of activity, and so you might be searching for a new past time to keep you active and fit. If you or a loved one is stuck in an inactive state because of physical limitations due to age or health, think about choosing a new recreation from this list below.
Yoga will help improve flexibility and relieve stress while exercising. Yoga is a low-impact activity, but it can have a significant impact on your overall state of health. If you are experiencing aches and pains, yoga keeps your aching areas active which helps reduce chronic pain. If you’re in the mood to lose a couple pounds, yoga may be the solution because it decreases cortisol which is the body’s natural stress hormone that causes body fat. Yoga’s strengthening of the joints and muscles also guards against falls that become more prevalent with aging because it targets your stability and balance. Yoga’s extended periods of balancing provides a great cardiovascular workout as well. The way that yoga gets your heart pumping will help guard against cardiovascular problems like heart disease and high cholesterol.
Swimming is another low-impact activity that puts the entire body to work. Athletes who have suffered an injury to their legs will often continue workouts in the pool so that they can maintain their cardiovascular health as they heal. The same concept can be applied to those who are limited in their ability to run due to the stress it puts on the knees and ankles. Swimming may put new muscles to work, but your heart will always feel the workout that comes from swimming. Maintaining cardiovascular health is vital as we age, and swimming will increase your heart rate without the pains associated with high-impact activities like running and jumping. Plus you’ll get to cool off while staying in shape during those hot summer months!
Another alternative that maintains cardiovascular endurance while avoiding high-impact activity is elliptical training. Spending 30 minutes on an elliptical or stationary bike offers less resistance to your joints and will keep your heart working hard. The fluid motion of an elliptical or stationary bike reduces wear and tear on joints that will help avoid the aches and pains that come with aging.
In addition to cardiovascular health, keeping strong muscles is important as we age. Building muscle strength will make movement easier and more enjoyable. Muscular strength training can be done at home in front of the television or at the gym with your training partner. Whichever path you choose, be sure to include exercises that work all of your major muscle groups (legs, back, abdomen, shoulders, arms). Great options for exercises include push-ups, sit-ups, leg presses, bicep curls and more. Working with resistance bands is another great way to build muscular strength while avoiding overly strenuous routines. Even gardening can provide adequate weight-lifting opportunities when digging and shoveling!
Don’t let a transitional stage in your life due to age slow you down. When the cool fall breeze turns into frigid winter air, all we have to do is adapt our activities to fit the weather conditions. The same principle applies when going through a changing season in life. If you know how to adapt, you will continue to find ways to stay healthy and fit despite changes in physical ability. Who knows, maybe yoga or swimming will be your next favorite activity!