Having a loved one that is a homebody or homebound can pose challenges for families when it comes to physical activity.

Not only is it important to encourage physical or outdoor activities, it helps the whole family connect. It can be as simple as hanging a bird feeder outside a window, arranging flowers in pots, spending time by the water, going for a walk, or having a picnic.

Being outside can help to ease the symptoms of depression, increase vitamin D levels, promote restful sleep, and cannot only enhance cognitive function but help develop new interests and habits.

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According to the National Institute on Aging, most people tend to focus on one type of exercise or activity. Research has shown it is important to focus on multiple areas such as endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility; each having different benefits. Variety helps reduce boredom and risk of injury, which can be key to creating a new habit. Some of these items are the focus of Crow Wing Energized Matter of Balance classes.

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Endurance activities such as walking, yard work, dancing, or swimming increase “staying power” to help folks keep up with regular daily activities.

Strengthening helps with independence and promotes balance which supports prevention of fall-related injuries. Lifting items for garden work or daily chores can be an easy way to start a strengthening routine in your home.

Balance exercises such as standing on one foot or heel-to-toe walking also help prevent fall-related injuries and can be done anytime, anywhere, and as often as you like. Be sure to use something sturdy to hold on to if you become unsteady such as a chair or wall railing.

Flexibility stretches make moving easier when starting to exercise more frequently with daily activities. Some of these can be done seated such as bending over to tie your shoes or looking over your shoulder.

No matter what your age or physical endurance, there are activities for each level of fitness! Our experience from facilitating Matter of Balance classes has shown no two people are alike and each person in the class finds a different way to help themselves stay strong, healthy, and independent longer.

A few key items to success with adding mobility and outdoor activities:

  • Include physical activity in your everyday life,
  • Try all four types of exercise,

  • Plan for breaks in the routine,

  • Set long- and short-term goals,

  • Get moving with a buddy,

  • Have fun!

Studies show that people with arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease benefit from regular exercise and physical activity. Adding in outdoor elements only promotes healthy habits! Track your progress using the My Go4Life tools at https://bit.ly/2E5s6bn.

As always, when trying new physical activities make sure to be safe by warming up your muscles with stretching before and after any activity. Consult your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.

Since Matter of Balance classes need to be taught in person, we do not have any classes scheduled this fall. You have other options like Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance or SAIL: Stay Active and Independent for Life. To find out class times, go to: https://yourjuniper.org/Programs