Due to the pandemic, most of us, particularly those of us 60 and up are staying at home. Science has shown us that older adults may be at a greater risk for adverse consequences of COVID-19 and as a result, we are playing it safe! What we do not realize is that by hunkering down, we may actually be making our health worse. Why? Staying at home has increased behaviors such as sitting for long periods of time, snacking, eating or drinking to excess, or zoning out watching the television. All of which are proven to be bad for your health! To top it off, social isolation has been shown to be as bad for you as smoking ½ pack of cigarettes a day. So, what can we do? If we all must stay at home for the foreseeable future, what should we be doing to make sure we are maintaining our physical, cognitive and mental well-being? Here are a few suggestions.
- Get out of that chair- Set an alarm and get up out of your chair at least once an hour. Walk around your house, do a few squats, knee raises, heel raises. Get that blood flowing again.
- Exercise every single day- No excuses here if you have the internet. There are hundreds of free programs online right now. Try some yoga, tai chi, seated fitness or dance programs like Zumba. Older adults should get at least 30 minutes a day of exercise to maintain their health.
- Do not forget your brain health- Television can be a great escape during this time but it does nothing productive for your brain. Brains need to be exercised just like other areas of your body in order to maintain or improve. Consider doing puzzles, games, or reading to learn something new. Try art, writing in a journal, or interacting with family and friends by phone or online. All this help keep your brain engaged and building new brain cells.
- Stay Social- Social interaction is good for your brain but better for your mental health! Even if you are at-home on your own, there are ways to continue to interact with others. Such cool technology is available to you online or with your smartphone. Who would have thought that we would be able to have video telephones in our lifetime?! Not sure how to use those tools, how about the good old-fashioned telephone? Call someone, maybe someone you have not spoken to in a while. Chances are they are lonely and bored as well.