| Tue, Nov 27, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Medicare Memo: Stay Active This Winter

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

senior winter exercisesWintertime plunging temperatures in the north and shorter days for everyone in the U.S. can make you want to hibernate until spring. But unlike bears, most people do best if they keep active during the winter.

Staying active can help preserve your strength, flexibility and balance. And while it helps your body, exercise can also combat seasonal depression stemming from less sunlight.

Exercise Outdoors

If you like to be active outdoors during the warmer and lighter months, then try staying active outside during the winter, too. However, you may need to make a few changes to your routine:

  • Warm up first. Cold temperatures can make your muscles tight and more prone to injuries. Be sure to warm them up with stretches and light movement before doing anything more strenuous.

  • Insulate your body. Dress in layers of lighter clothing to keep warm. You can also remove your top layer if you get too hot.

  • Cool down slowly. You may want to remove your layers right away when you return inside. But you need to give your body time to adjust. Otherwise, you could get hypothermia. This is when you lose so much heat that your body temperature gets dangerously low.

  • Drink up. It’s just as important to stay hydrated when exercising in winter as it is in summer, even if you don’t feel thirsty.

  • Lighten up. If possible, exercise outdoors in daylight. If you exercise outdoors when it is dark, wear reflective materials to make sure you can be seen.

Exercise Indoors

Sometimes, it works better to take your physical activity indoors for the winter. Here are some ideas on getting active inside:

  • Walk at the mall. Your local mall may even have walking groups that meet to walk laps before the stores open. Socializing with others while you walk can also help combat the wintertime “blues.”

  • Join a health club. This will allow you a variety of physical activities to choose from every week. Some clubs have trainers who can help you create an exercise routine and train you on the equipment. If you get your Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, check to see whether it includes discounts to a fitness club near you.

  • Get wet. Find a local indoor pool you can use. Community centers and colleges sometimes offer pool use to local residents for a small fee. Sometimes apartment complexes offer pool use as a benefit of living there. Try swimming, water aerobics or even just walking or running laps in the water.

  • Create a home gym. You don’t need lots of fancy, expensive equipment. You can easily set up a great workout routine with just a set of dumbbells, an exercise ball and a jump rope.

  • Clean the house. Keep in mind that any physical activity, including cleaning, “counts” as exercise. Turn up the radio and scrub the kitchen floor or vacuum.

  • Visit the library. Most local libraries offer exercise videos you can check out for free. Pick up a new one to try out when you return the previous video.

Keep It Up!

Keeping active during the winter can help you avoid gaining excess weight. You’ll also avoid losing strength and stamina caused by inactivity. And you’ll have a head start on shorts and swimsuit weather the coming spring.

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.

The family of UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Solutions plans are insured or covered by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or one of its affiliates, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare contract and a Medicare-approved Part D sponsor.


Medicare Memo: Engage and Enjoy—Medicare Made Clear Blog

Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide—National Institute on Aging

Winter Fitness Tips—Video and written article from Martina Navratilova on AARP.org


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