Outdoor winter scene with trees in the snow.

The Importance of Physical Activity

by Karen Flores, Hotline Attorney

We all know that a sedentary lifestyle is detrimental to both physical and mental health, however, during the winter months, maintaining consistent physical activity can be challenging. And although being exposed to natural sunlight is good for our health, the outdoors is not very inviting when days are cold and gloomy.

There are various ways to stay active indoors.  Of course you can pay money to join a gym or fitness club, enroll in an exercise class, or perhaps buy exercise equipment, but there are also simple things you can do to stay active in your own home which don’t cost anything. Just walking around your house or apartment, going up and down the stairs, cleaning the house, running the vacuum, or stretching your muscles means you’re moving and not sitting. Even while you are sitting in a chair, you can periodically lift and rotate your legs and arms and flex your feet.

Shopping malls can provide a safe, warm place to walk and some of them open their doors early specifically for “mall walkers.” For instance, Meridian Mall in Okemos opens at 7:00 am to allow walkers access, plus the 50 Plus group meets at the Food Court in the Meridian Mall three times a week for stretch and flex exercises. A lap around the interior of the mall is approximately one mile. Check the malls in your area to see what activities are available.

If you are able to venture outside, make sure you dress appropriately for conditions and also beware of hazardous surfaces due to snow and ice. Even a walk around the block for a few minutes is beneficial not only because of the movement but also exposure to the natural light, even on cloudy days, can promote mental well-being and increase crucial vitamin D levels. Also, spending some time outdoors can alleviate cabin fever.

So while we all eagerly await increased hours of daylight and milder temperatures, try to do some physical activity every day to promote healthy aging. Regular exercise helps both our physical and mental well-being.

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