Your house is warm and the autumn wind outside is brisk. Maybe if it warms up tomorrow you’ll exercise, you tell yourself. Then the next day brings nothing but rain, and you choose to stay bundled up in your recliner.

And with the holiday approaching, and so much work to do to prepare for the family gathering, you convince yourself that exercise can wait until you are less busy.

Sound familiar?

Missing an occasional day of physical activity is normal, 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 of inactivity, 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. Getting back to exercising after a layoff can be mentally challenging – more so than when you were committed to a regular routine.

Therefore, it’s important to come up with an autumn workout and activities that you will pursue to maintain your fitness level and keep your health in check, even in less than ideal weather. Take a look at these autumn exercise tips for active seniors to help you get started.

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

Autumn Activity Alternatives for Active Seniors

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. Invite some friends or relatives to join you in a park and hike a trail if you are able.

If the weather turns and you are stuck indoors, get up and walk 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 activities.

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, and you can break this up into two 15-minute sessions per day or three 10-minute sessions. (Moderate exercise is defined as breathing harder than you do at rest but still being able to speak.)

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.

  1. 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 can easily be completed indoors. 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. Active seniors may experience some muscle soreness, so consult your physician if the pain is sharp, continuous, located in a joint, or produces inflammation and swelling.

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

  1. Home equipment can add more capability and needed resistance to the exercises you can perform, thereby greatly improving your conditioning. Costs start at less than $10 for an elastic exercise band.

Don’t Let Autumn Stop You Cold!

Pursue fitness, and embrace new ways to stay active and healthy during this season, regardless of the weather or anything else that could interfere with you – you can do it!

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