While winter signals the start of fun seasonal activities such as tree trimming and caroling, depending on where you live, it may also mark a drastic drop in temperature. This can be especially dangerous for seniors, as they may more easily slip on ice or develop hypothermia. Instead of venturing into the tundra-like outdoors, enjoy these three fun indoor activities that have added health benefits.
1. Drink warm green tea
Kick chilly weather to the curb by sipping on a hot cup of green tea. Not only will it warm up your senior loved ones, but it may deliver a health boost. Green tea contains catechin, a powerful antioxidant. According to a study published in the journal Life Sciences, research has shown that green tea may reduce one's risk for cancer, neurological diseases and cardiovascular issues. Additionally, a separate study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking this tea daily for 12 weeks led to a reduction in body fat in men. Coincidentally, that timeframe fits the approximate duration of winter, so be sure to sip on green tea with your senior loved ones all season long.
2. Knit scarves
When the temperature is low, bundle up to stay warm. Turn winter wear into a fun seasonal activity by knitting or crocheting hats, scarves and gloves with your senior loved ones. After all, scientific evidence is now proving what avid crafters have long been boasting – working with yarn has positive mental effects. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences reviewed the effects of knitting and crocheting on seniors. Researchers found that those who crafted were 30-50 percent less likely to experience cognitive impairment, which often precedes dementia.
Working with the hands, remembering patterns and being in good company are all advantageous for seniors, so get to crafting with your loved ones. Involve the grandkids by allowing them to select yarn colors. If you end up with a surplus of hats and scarves after crafting, consider donating the items to your local homeless shelter.
One of the healthiest ways to stay warm this winter is to get your body moving. Your muscles will exert energy and improve circulation, and physical activity can raise the body's temperature by several degrees. Beyond allowing you to stay warm this winter, exercising is also crucial for senior mobility and health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, older adults need at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, which may include anything from a brisk walk to dancing. Help your senior loved ones get their weekly dose of fitness by encouraging them to join group classes at their assisted living communities. These classes will be held indoors during the winter months, ensuring residents don't slip on ice or get frostbite outside. If your loved ones don't want to participate in organized activities, just groove to the beat of some holiday music instead. The important thing is to stay active.