It’s hard to believe, but it’s been almost exactly a year since COVID-19 caused a worldwide phenomenon of social distancing and quarantining. Many of us have discovered both the joys of athletic pants and the aggravation of the “quarantine 15.” The 2020-2021 winter season didn’t help with our global inactivity, either. With record snowfalls throughout the country, many of us hunkered down to wait out the cold. Now that spring is on its way and we’re starting to get warmer weather, many of us are thinking, “I should probably get serious about becoming more active.”
“We all know intrinsically the benefits of staying physically fit, like a boosted metabolism, better muscle tone and strength, better immune systems and an overall better quality of life,” says Jeanie Tini, Director of Marketing and Sales at The Estates at Carpenters. “On the other hand, not getting enough physical activity can be both expensive and damaging in many ways.”
Jeanie says that this past year has shown the importance of having a plan to be physically active, especially during times when it seems difficult to get out and be active. “Older adults especially have a use-it-or-lose-it aspect to their physical wellness,” she says. “As we age, we can develop sarcopenia, which is muscle and strength loss due to aging, and that in and of itself can be a vicious cycle. When we lose strength, it’s harder to be active, which causes us to be more inactive … which causes more loss of muscle tone and strength.”
We’ve heard a lot over the past decade about the importance of getting 10,000 steps per day. While research has shown that this is a bit of an arbitrary number, there are definite physical benefits by getting enough steps (or activity) during the day. When we’re getting the recommended amount of exercise for our ages and bodies, our risk of type 2 diabetes goes down, our muscle mass increases, body fat decreases and we sleep better – just to name a few benefits.
“Physical activity is a major contributor to mental health, which is why it’s so essential, particularly now, for older adults to get that boost,” says Jeanie. “Depression and loneliness is common among older adults, and that’s become exacerbated through social distancing and isolation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
On the flip side, research has shown that when the number of daily steps we get is reduced to 1,500 (which is about the activity level of a housebound person who doesn’t have a physical wellness plan), insulin sensitivity reduces almost immediately, as does muscle tone. Unfortunately, when muscle tone is lost, it’s a lot more difficult to regain it, simply because older people don’t have the regeneration powers of younger folks.
However, everything is not doom and gloom. As the old adage goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is now.” Even if you’ve become a complete couch potato over the winter months, it’s never too late to take steps – literally and figuratively – to improve your health and get more physical activity.
The CDC states that adults need at least 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity, like briskly walking, jogging or riding a bike. This breaks out to approximately 30 minutes five times a week. When you put it that way, it sounds pretty easy to accomplish, right? Here’s even better news: there are plenty of ways to get physical activity without heading to the gym or slogging on a treadmill at home. Here are just a few ways that you can add some more spring in your step for a boosted physical wellness routine:
Get your house in order. If you’re stuck in the house, look on the positive side of things – it’s a perfect time to clean and get things in order. Cleaning out the closet, organizing shelves or even vacuuming are all ways to get moving and work a whole range of muscles. Plus, you can check things off your to-do list.
Go outside. Yes, it may be cold where you are, but even a little bit of fresh air can do wonders to your mood and your health. Even a short walk around the block will get you some natural vitamin D and put roses in your cheeks. Just be sure to bundle up and wear sturdy shoes.
Find ways to add a little extra movement to your day. Going to the grocery store? Park at the back of the lot so you have to walk that much further. Watching TV? Do jumping jacks during the commercial break (or do resistance exercises while watching your shows, like lifting weights, using resistance bands or even pedaling a recumbent bike).
Try something new. If you have the internet and a streaming service, the world is your oyster. There are literally countless wellness videos available for free or low-cost, and many of them don’t require you to purchase new, expensive equipment. This is the perfect time for you to try out yoga, tai chi or another form of exercise you’ve been considering trying. And if you end up not liking it, that’s fine – there are many other options for you to try.
A Safe, Active Lifestyle Is Possible
“The wellness-focused lifestyle at The Estates at Carpenters has never been more important,” says Jeanie. “We have always focused on providing an atmosphere where residents can live well and stay well with balanced nutrition, wellness opportunities and a variety of experiences designed to keep minds sharp and engaged. During the pandemic, it became difficult for many older adults to stay active, connect with others and engage in fulfilling activities. At The Estates, we were able to put practices into place that protect our residents from virus exposure while also providing them the opportunities they needed to remain physically active.”
“As we move forward into 2021, our focus on wellness and physical activity will continue to remain at the forefront of life at The Estates. Our goal is and always has been to provide a way for older adults to stay in control of their health and overall well-being. We will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and balance safety measures with new, improved ways to help our residents live well and stay active.”
About The Estates at Carpenters
The Estates at Carpenters is a Life Plan Community offering worry-free independent living, assisted living and high-quality skilled nursing care and rehabilitation. For over 34 years, The Estates has provided older adults in the area with an active, engaging lifestyle filled with abundant choices and the amenities and services that make life easier. A lifestyle designed to keep older adults healthy and well today – and tomorrow.
For more information on The Estates or to RSVP to an upcoming event, contact Jeanie at 863-279-4503 or visit our website.