Your house is warm and the autumn wind outside is brisk. Maybe tomorrow, if it warms up, you’ll get in some exercise, you tell yourself. Then the next day features constant drizzling rain, and you choose to stay in your recliner. Then there is the holiday the following week to begin preparing for.

Missing an occasional day of physical activity is fine, but stringing several days or weeks of inactivity together can undo all of your healthy efforts you made during the summer.

Within a few weeks, loss of muscle strength becomes noticeable especially in seniors, as does the loss of conditioning in the heart and lungs. When you are inactive, you burn fewer calories, which can lead to weight gain. Exercising again after a layoff can be mentally challenging more so than when you were accustomed to a regular routine.

Therefore, it’s important to come up with an autumn workout and activities to maintain your fitness levels and keep your health focus. Take a look at these autumn exercise tips to help you get started.

Note: Before beginning any new physical activity, please consult with your physician. 

Autumn Activity Alternatives

While fall weather can be unpredictable, make sure you take advantage of the  beautiful days. Garden, rake some leaves, or take a walk to enjoy the fall colors. Bring your dog along for the walk. Join some friends or relatives in a park and hike a trail.

If you are stuck indoors, get up and walk around in the house every hour, or put on some music and dance. Clean out a closet, dust some furniture, or cook a meal. Research shows that aside from thinking about the physical benefits of doing chores, performing them may help preserve brain function.

Easy Exercises Seniors Can Do Indoors

1. Cardio/Aerobics exercises burn calories, lower blood pressure, maintain joint movement, improve bone and heart health, and increase endurance. Treadmills, stationary bikes, elliptical exercise bikes, rowing machines, or cardio videos can be used indoors – making this one of many accessible autumn exercise tips.

The recommended amount of cardio exercise is 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity level. This can be divided into 5 days of cardio for 30 minutes (you can break this up in two 15-minute sessions per day or three 10-minute sessions). Moderate exercise is defined as breathing harder than at rest but still able to speak.

Work up slowly in time and intensity if you have not been accustomed to cardio workouts.

With any kind of exercise, a warm up is important. This should take 10 to 15 minutes. It includes five minutes of light cardio, like marching in place, and some stretches.

Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising. If you develop pain or pressure in your chest or anywhere else in your body, stop immediately and contact your physician. Stop if you become dizzy, feel weak, or are short of breath.

2. Strength exercises involve using elastic resistance bands or weights (sometimes your body weight) to build muscle strength. For example: standing up from sitting in a chair builds leg muscles; push ups increase upper body strength; and planks improve core strength.

Abdominal exercises performed from a standing position can also strengthen the core.

Strength or resistance training is one of the more important autumn exercise tips for seniors to retain muscle mass, preserve bone density, and maintain the ability to live independently.

Strength training features plenty of indoor exercises. The key is to select the exercises that work for you and avoid the ones that may lead to injury. Some basic dumbbell workouts include:

  • Bent-over row
  • Triceps extension
  • Bicep curl
  • Overhead (shoulder) press
  • Front raise

It has been shown that twice-a-week strength training (not on consecutive days) appears to be highly productive for developing strength in men and women over the age of 50.

As with cardio exercises, a warm up is essential. You may experience some muscle soreness, so consult your physician if the pain is sharp, continuous, located in a joint, or produces inflammation and swelling.

3. Balance exercises are vital because falls are the number one cause of injury and death in seniors. There are safe, effective balance exercises that will make you steadier on your feet and better able to move through your day.

4. Flexibility helps with back pain, improves posture, and enhances the capability to move. You can choose from among two types of stretching exercises: static or dynamic. Static stretches are prolonged stretches, holding a position for 10 to 30 seconds. Dynamic motion exercises use motion to increase the range of movement in a joint.

It is recommended that seniors stretch two or three days per week, performing each stretch three to five times. Doing a warm up before stretching is important. More detailed information on various stretching exercises is available from Elder Gym.

5. Home gyms can add more capability and needed resistance to the exercises you can perform, thereby greatly improving your conditioning. Costs for equipment can range from less than $10 for an elastic exercise band, to thousands of dollars for sophisticated weight or cardio equipment.

First, determine what types of workouts you want to pursue, and then see what equipment is out there. Some basic equipment might include:

  • a yoga mat
  • resistance bands
  • a pair of dumbbells (not too heavy)
  • a stationary exercise bike for indoor cardio

You might also add an exercise bench to perform exercise from a seated position. As your routine develops, add equipment that will augment your exercise program.

Don’t Let Autumn Stop You Cold

Don’t let autumn set you back and put you on a path to frailty and loss of function. Pursue fitness, and embrace new ways to stay active and healthy during this season.

Check out our Health & Wellness blog to find more healthy activities for seniors.