According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise each week. That's only 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.

The guidelines also recommend at least two strength-training sessions each week. Very light or light intensity is fine for older adults, but exercises should work all major muscle groups. And stretching and balance activities are also recommended for healthy aging.

In nice weather, you may rely on simple outdoor activities, like walking, gardening and yard work, and outdoor sports, such as tennis and golf to meet these goals, but when winter sets in, you have to find new ways to get enough overall exercise.

Here are six strategies for staying fit this winter:

1. Join a Gym

Look for a fitness center that offers a wide variety of group exercise classes, such as yoga, tai chi, aquatics, flexibility, balance, strengthening, and low-impact aerobics, that are especially helpful for older adults. If a gym membership is not in your budget, you may find suitable exercise programs through your local hospital, senior center, or other community organization. A local college or university may offer community memberships at their fitness center; which may have an indoor track as well as a pool. To prevent injury, work with a trained exercise professional, especially if you are using fitness machines that are new to you or you have physical limitations due to joint problems or other medical conditions.

2. Walk the Mall

Walking around the mall and window shopping is exercise in and of itself and certainly better than sitting at home on the couch. Take advantage of the indoor walking space and staircases in your local shopping center, and spend a little more time there logging in extra steps while doing errands. A pedometer can help you keep track of how much exercise you get just from walking. Hint: Go early in the day to stroll the mall without dealing with crowds.

3. Stay Home and Sweat

On particularly bad weather days, exercise DVDs help you stay fit without leaving home. Choose a program that is specifically designed for older adults. If you have the space, consider purchasing home fitness equipment, such as a recumbent bike or treadmill and light free weights or resistance bands. To prevent boredom, place the equipment in a room where you can listen to music or catch up on your favorite TV shows while you exercise.

4. Step Outside

You shouldn't feel like you must completely avoid the outdoors. Ben Greenfield, a personal trainer from, recommends getting some good outdoor exercise clothing and taking advantage of the elements whenever you can. As long as ice is not a concern, bundle up and step outside. "When you exercise in cold weather, you burn more calories," he points out. "Also, roads and sidewalks have more friction and tend to make you stronger and fitter than indoor treadmills and bikes."

5. Buddy Up

Motivation can be low when you're not able to get out and do the things you normally like to do outdoors. Invite friends and neighbors to join you in exercise classes and on walks, or invite someone over to your home and turn an exercise DVD into a group activity.

6. Check With Your Doctor

Before you start any new exercise program, speak with your doctor to find out which type of activities are best for you. This is especially important if you have a chronic medical condition or have been sedentary for an extended period of time.

Ben Greenfield reviewed this article.




Arthritis Today. "Winter Walking." Web. 2013.

American College of Sports Medicine Fit Society Page: Exercise & The Older Adult

Ben Greenfield, M.A. Sports Science and Exercise Physiology

IDEA Health & Fitness Association: Choosing Age-Appropriate Exercise Equipment

Northwestern University

University of Missouri-Kansas City Center on Aging Without Walls: Exercise and Nutrition