Staying active throughout COVID-19 has been hard for everyone, even now as we enter a new stage of the pandemic. As the government lifts many public health restrictions here in Ontario, it’s now up to individuals to evaluate their risks and act accordingly.
Older adults face higher risks of contracting COVID than those below the age of 50, so it may be a while before you feel comfortable returning to life as you knew it in 2019. Until then, you’ll likely continue restricting your social activities to protect yourself.
Here at Integracare, a top provider of Toronto and Mississauga home care, we support our Clients using their good judgement to protect their health during the ongoing pandemic.
Our dedicated team of Registered Nurses (RNs), Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs), and Personal Support Workers (PSWs) will continue to provide safe home care services in Toronto and Mississauga that reflect Seniors’ unique risks during this stage of the pandemic.
Now two years into it, you may feel less motivated and more isolated than ever before, so we’re sharing our favourite Senior activities during COVID today. Keep reading to find out why staying active is so important and how you can do it at any age.
Why is Exercise Important for Seniors?
Physical activity plays a critical role in your health, mental well-being, and quality of life. However, keeping active is especially important as we age. Exercise helps you stay physically and mentally fit while preventing some medical problems that come with growing older.
Here are some of the top benefits of exercise for Seniors.
Prevents Disease: People who exercise are less likely to develop chronic issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Strengthens Your Body: Strength and stamina are two of the biggest benefits of your active lifestyle. Improving your endurance can help you reduce back pain and symptoms of arthritis.
Improves Your Immune System: Immunity at a time like this is top of mind for many Seniors. In addition to following health guidelines and getting your booster, staying fit may help you fight off the common cold, flu, and even COVID. A study published by the Harvard Medical School shows people who were consistently active had a lower risk of hospitalization, ICU admissions, and death after getting COVID.
Reduces the Risk of Falls: It’s estimated about one in three Seniors fall at least once each year. On top of that, falls represent 85% of the injuries that put Seniors in hospital every year. While fall prevention contains many elements, exercise plays an important role. Regular activity can improve your coordination and strength, two things you need to stay on your feet.
Boosts Your Mood: Feeling down? A little bit of movement could be what the doctor ordered. Although exercise isn’t a catch-all cure for mental health issues, it’s easier to have a positive outlook on life when you stay active. Exercise produces endorphins, the feel-good hormone responsible for feelings of happiness and pain relief.
Prevents Memory Loss: Staying active gives your brain a workout, too. Research shows older adults who are more physically active have a lowered risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
How Much Exercise Do Seniors Need?
This question doesn’t come with a neat answer that works for everyone. How much you need to exercise links directly to how much you can exercise, which may be limited by health conditions.
Luckily, physical activity can take many different forms. You can easily find a routine that works with your physical needs and capabilities today.
If you’re generally fit with no limiting health conditions, you can follow the same health recommendations as everyone else. According to the CDC, you should try to log at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, plus two days of muscle-strengthening activity.
But let’s face it — these goals may be unrealistic for some of us with chronic conditions.
The good news is, any bit of movement you can fit into your day is better than nothing, and it doesn’t have to look like a stereotypical workout. Anything that gets you up and out of your chair can go a long way to improving your health, even if it’s just to stand and stretch while watching tv.
Why? Although low-intensity activity may not work up a sweat or get your blood pumping, it does help you avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
Sitting all day is not good for anyone, regardless of age. Whether you’re eight or 88, sitting for long periods every day can increase your risk of serious health concerns, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression.
You can lower these risks simply by adopting a movement-based lifestyle that includes any exercise you can manage.
If you’re worried about starting a new fitness routine on your own, get in touch with the team at Integracare. Our talented PSWs and Physiotherapists can guide you through Senior activities during COVID to ensure you’re doing them correctly. They can tailor a routine that matches your unique needs and objectives, addressing any injuries or conditions.
Whether you love to move or struggle with mobility, everyone stands to gain from simple stretching. Stretching is your chance to fight against the natural decline in flexibility and strength that happens as we age. It lengthens tight muscles and tendons, limbering you up for a greater range of safe movement throughout the day.
Stretching also helps release tension and reduce pain caused by locked up muscles, so it’s a great idea if you suffer from aches, pains, and arthritis.
A stretching routine includes low-impact activities for Seniors during COVID. They’re simple, can be done at home, and don’t require any equipment. You can even fit a stretch in while watching your favourite TV show or listening to a podcast.
For the best results, however, try mindful stretching free from distractions. Slow, deliberate stretches paired with meditation keep your body and mind fit.
Not sure where to begin? These hip exercises for Seniors are a wonderful place to start before moving on to more complicated stretches.
Walking is one of the best activities for Seniors during COVID. It’s a cheap and simple way to get out of the house and soak up some sunshine.
Walking is also a great socially distanced activity you can do with your friends or family. After being cooped up so long this winter, walking with loved ones might be worth more for your mental health than any of the physical benefits combined!
Are you worried about how far you can walk without taking a break? Walking is perfect for those who are just starting to get active. Just do what you can while using the right mobility device to assist you. Having one of our PSWs or Live-In Caregivers accompany you is also a great idea.
Here at Integracare, our Caregivers aren’t just healthcare specialists. They’re also empathetic, friendly people who can provide companionship for our Clients during their daily walks.
Walking is one of those activities that you get better at with practice. Every step you take helps build muscle, improve bone health, and increase stamina. You can gradually add more walking to your daily routine, and you’ll be able to walk for longer than when you started.
While most gyms and fitness centres have opened their doors, you may not feel comfortable visiting these establishments for a variety of reasons. After all, there’s still a greater risk of contracting COVID there, and many gyms lack thoughtful and safe programming designed for Seniors.
Luckily, you don’t need a gym membership to get moving at home. You can find follow-along workouts that provide the perfect Senior activities during COVID.
The National Institute for Aging’s YouTube channel is the perfect one-stop-shop for workout videos, with playlists for strength, balance, and stretching. However, YouTube has a lot more to offer, which is perfect if you still haven’t found a workout that you enjoy.
You can find Senior fitness channels tailored for all levels of mobility, giving you a chance to experiment with the following classes:
- Chair-based activities
- Gentle aerobics
- Strength training
- Tai Chi
Your brain is a muscle that needs training, just like any other part of your body. But unlike going for a walk or following a virtual Tai Chi class, it’s not always obvious how to give your brain a good workout.
Luckily, improving your mental fitness is easier than you think. You can keep it strong and healthy by playing cognitive games for Seniors and those living with dementia.
In fact, everyone benefits from playing certain brain games like crosswords, sudoku, wordle and jigsaw puzzles — not just Seniors. Brain games keep you on your toes by improving memory, language skills, spatial awareness, and hand-eye coordination.
Plus, they’re just plain fun, especially if you play with a friend.
While cognitive games aren’t going to perform miracles or cure degenerative diseases, they can be a simple daily activity that improves quality of life for those living with dementia in Toronto and Mississauga.
How to Stay Safe While Staying Active
Starting something new can be daunting when you’re older. Whether you’ve never exercised before or an accident has prevented you from moving like you used to, you can have some reservations about getting active.
Some hesitation in the face of change is normal, especially if you’re alone. But don’t let these fears stop you from improving your health.
If you have some concerns about your safety, here are some tips to help you get moving carefully.
1. Consult a Healthcare Professional
If you’re just starting to introduce activity into your daily routine, discuss your plans with your doctor. If you receive home care from an RPN, PSW, or live in caregiver in Toronto, these experienced professionals can also provide some guidance.
As one of the top home care agencies in Toronto and Mississauga, Integracare has RPNs and PSWs with wide-sweeping skills, knowledge, and resources to help you age well in the comfort of your home.
2. Start Slow
At the very start, it can be tempting to take on too much at once, but overdoing it increases your chances of injuring yourself.
To avoid a pulled muscle, try taking a slow and steady approach to your fitness. Gradually introduce basic stretches and short walks, building up as you go until you feel confident taking on more dynamic exercises or workout classes.
3. Have a Spotter
If you’re having trouble staying motivated, get a loved one or an Integracare PSW involved with your next activity. Whether you walk with your partner or do an online Tai Chi class with a friend, exercise is a lot easier with someone else — not to mention, it’s a lot safer! They’ll be able to notify anyone if anything goes wrong.
Our Physiotherapists are another source of guidance if you’re worried about exercising on your own. They can be your personal spotter and cheerleader, encouraging you to move safely.
Since the start of the pandemic, Integracare has provided COVID testing in Mississauga and Toronto to do our part in the fight against the spread of this virus. In addition to corporate testing, we also provide in-home mobile COVID testing services to help people reduce their exposure to test sites.
We answered the most common questions about mobile COVID testing in a previous post. But note that our services as a mobile COVID testing provider give us unique insight into the pandemic. We take the health and safety of our Clients seriously, and we understand it’s still necessary to take precautions that protect ourselves and our communities.
As with every stage of the pandemic, older adults have different priorities and concerns today than other age groups. While navigating this new landscape, keeping mentally and physically active can help you stay positive in the times ahead.
Try a virtual workout, begin your day with mindful stretches, or ask an Integracare Caregiver to walk around the block. These activities for Seniors during COVID can help you build strength and mobility that pay off long after the pandemic.
If you aren’t sure what is a safe way to focus on your fitness, give us a call. We’d love to help you stay active at any age.