Each year as we head into fall and winter, our routines change—especially as we try to find ways to stay active and keep moving. Health and fitness professional Veronica Barnaby is here to share her tips on how to stay fit and healthy, no matter the season.

Video Transcript

- Hello everyone and welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. As always, I hope you are having a fantastic day today. Now, whether you're watching us on video or you're listening via podcast, we thank you for finding us and we hope that we can continue to expand your knowledge all about senior living. We have officially exited summer and we are now heading into fall and winter and with that comes a slight change in routine for all of us, especially if you are trying to find ways to stay fit. Veronica Barnaby is my special guest today and she was going to share some of her tips on how you can stay active no matter what season it happens to be. Hi, Veronica, how are you?

- Hi, I'm good. How are you, Melissa?

- I am doing fantastic. Veronica, I love your background. You were the first person, literally, that I thought of for this particular topic. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do with the Arbor Company.

- All right, so I have been a health and fitness professional for over 21 years now. Although I have worked with all ages, my demographic has been 90% seniors. I specialize with dealing with disabilities, both physical and developmental. And before moving to Florida to join the Arbor family, I was original aerobics coordinator for LA fitness for DC, Maryland, and Virginia clubs. It was my job to train, develop and inspire fitness teams as well as other professionals. So I also was a lead instructor for PG Community College, which is in Maryland. Their senior stage program, I worked at the college at the mother hub, as we call it, where we worked at the face of the countywide program. So I was one of the lead instructors there. And I have been here at Arbor for three years in October. So I'm about to come up on my anniversary and I started as one of their first full time fitness coordinators. And after I returned from having a baby girl last year, I am now their new engagement director.

- Awesome, so a couple congratulations, one for the sweet baby, and then for your anniversary. Congratulations.

- Yeah.

- Yay. You know, as we've listened to your background, it is clear that you have worked very extensively with seniors. You do such a great job. I remember watching you in action and you do really well in meeting our seniors where they happen to be, modifying exercises so that they can be a part of it. Now for someone who is out there, Veronica, that says, "Oh, you know what? I'm too old. It's too late for me to get started in exercising or to even continue." What would you say to someone like that?

- It is never too late. It's never too late. We're always hearing, especially now with all the multi-levels of media that you have, that you have incredible stories out here of seniors not having any fitness background whatsoever and doing amazing physical and mental age defying accomplishments between track running, between doing yoga, getting into Pilates, the variation, just go on. Doing ballet. So here we have some seniors with the same type of case where they have had no background whatsoever in any type of fitness. They were moms or, you know, they stayed at home and they just didn't have any time to work out. And here they are in their eighties, seventies, even 98 year old age, and they get involved and realize how beneficial it is to them. Yes, it's not a dramatic change once you get started, but you realize how good you feel. You're able to walk better. You're able to wake up better. You're able to sleep better. So it's never too late, even if you've had some type of stroke and you have a little bit of paralysis, there's always something that you can do to make your life a little easier, less stressful and just all around healthier.

- Yeah, you know, we talk about cognitive health and we talk about health with our bodies. And I always, I'm a firm believer of, if you don't use it, you lose it.

- That's right.

- And that nothing could be more true than when it comes to our bodies. And we've heard it from multiple doctors, from people like yourself who have extensive knowledge and background in this subject. So when it comes to warmer weather, obviously it's a lot easier to get outside. You get that vitamin D, you can get up and get some of that exercise. And, you know, I know you're in your particular case, you're down in Florida. So it may stay sunny and nice almost year round, but for a lot of our communities and our seniors watching, it gets pretty cool, pretty quick, starting around October ish and we're entering fall now. So now that we're making that transition into some cooler or colder months, what are some things that our seniors can do to remain active while indoors, whether they live at a senior community or not.

- So one of the best recommendations is stretching, to be honest, it increases your mobility. So you should always be able to touch every part of your body. And I know that sounds like, "What?" but you should be. You should never be at the point where you feel disconnected to your body. And a lot of the times when you get older, it is that you are losing your flexibility. Things get a little harder so out of all the things that I could recommend, yes, you want to get some good cardio. Yes, you want to be stronger and you want to, you know, do a little bit of weight bearing exercises. But the best thing really is flexibility, because you always want to be mobile. So just stretching your arms over your head, you know, trying to touch your toes so that if something falls on the floor, you'll be able to pick it up. Working with those knees, making sure that they've bend for you. One of the biggest things is like, oh, if I fall, I won't be able to get up. And it's not necessarily the strength that people are lacking, it's the flexibility in the joints, of the knees not bending like it used to, the toes that have arthritis that doesn't bend like they used to, or, you know, not being able to put weight on your shoulder. So the biggest thing is being able to have your mobility and be able to stretch and be a little bit of limberness. So that would be my greatest recommendation. Lift those arms up over your head every day, every day, 'cause you need your arms and you need to be able to stretch every day. Touch your toes every day. Even if you can't touch the floor or touch your feet without bending your knees, bend the knees, and then work your way till you can touch the floor or touch your feet. But flexibility is really a good key. Another thing is trying to multitask with something simple, as brushing your teeth and rocking or brushing your teeth and marching in place. That way, if you are engaging more than one of your senses, that it won't just take the focus off and you lose balance. So balance is a big thing when you get older. So being able to brush your teeth and march in place while you do it, that that gives you, you're not even really giving yourself a big workout, but you are able to chew gum and walk at the same time, which is something you want to be able to do.

- Yeah, and I love that these tips are something you can do right now. It doesn't matter where you live. If you're in a community, if you're in your own home, your own apartment, your own condo, you can do this right now. Just little things, and I will say, everything that you have said mimics exactly what our orthopedic surgeon, in one of our webinars told us, to prevent seeing him. It's to be able to, to use those joints, keep them fluid, keep, keep them, keep yourself active and stay out of his doctor's office.

- That's right.

- So perfect, I love all of those tips. You can use them right now. So we know that routines are important. We really learned this with COVID, right, over the last year, year and a half. So when it comes to a routine, how important is it to find something, when it comes to physical fitness that you enjoy doing, going into the winter months, when we lack a little bit of sun, the days are shorter and colder weather is upon us, and how can we do this to sort of prevent the winter blues, if you will?

- Well, so I guess the best thing is laughter. You know, outside of your daily routine, which can kind of get stiff and boring, you know, and it can become exactly what it is, it's a routine. And you don't find joy in it because you are literally just operating as you, body in motion, I encourage laughter. You could listen to a podcast, watch a movie that brings you joy, but something that increases your happiness and creates smiles and positive energy. It's very easy to become sedative in the gloomier months but if you find something that makes you laugh, you'll find that you'll bring your own sunshine from the inside. So that will make you a little bit more pleasant. So I would say laughter is probably one of the better medicines that don't cost much.

- Yeah. And that can be free. And while they're doing that, they can do the little movements that you talked about, right?

- Yeah, yes, absolutely.

- I love that. Now, when it comes to exercise, and I think this is a really important key, and soreness, what is normal? What is not normal? And when should somebody be concerned?

- Okay, so right off the bat, three to five days is a normal thing. So I want to always talk about our bodies are machines right? So just like any machine that has been sedative for a period of time, when you first start it up, of course, it's a little rusty, it's a little slow, but the more you turn that engine on and you get those wheels turning, the oils and the lubricants, they get moving through the system. So that optimize your ability to, or the reliability of that vehicle. That vehicle is your body. So the same thing goes with the human body. It's never too late to start moving. And if you do start moving, you will have a little soreness because you haven't done it in awhile. So I always tell any of my residents or clients that if you're sore, about three to five days is normal. Anything past five days, we just want to start monitoring. Maybe if you pulled something, popped something, you know, and maybe get checked out after five to seven days. But between three to five days, you have to understand your body's like, "What did you do to me?" Okay. And now, "Oh, I'm feeling that, oh, I'm really feeling what you did." So you got to give your body a little time to get adjusted to what you've done. Now, the more you exercise, the less that happens. I'm talking about somebody who is just starting out, haven't been moving. That will be that three to five days. But the more you work out, the better your body will be able to recover. So if you are working out two to three months now, your body probably doesn't need so much recovery time as it did when you first worked out the first two weeks, but I always tell people you'll be sore, maybe not the first day, it possibly could be the second day after you work out. But if it's prolonged for more than five days, and it does impede on your daily activity, then maybe you might have overdone it, or you might need to try to do something that was a less strenuous to your body.

- Sure, and that tip could also be the same for someone who maybe likes to go for a daily walk, but then they want to add a little bit of weightlifting. So you might not be sore from the walk, but you might be sore because you introduced something new.

- Correct. Exactly.

- Yep, gotcha. Yeah, gotcha. Now, final question, and I know there are a lot of people who love fall, who love winter, what are you most looking forward to this time of year?

- So, you know, with me working with seniors, okay, bringing extreme joy and happiness to my residents so that they feel that this is the best time of their life, that they do not focus on their past losses or their past pain. That's a everyday thing. That's what my job is to do, is to them happy every day. And that's what I want to continue doing, that they feel like that their old days were not their best days, that where they are now in their life is their best life. It is where they can enjoy happiness, something new. Not all the things that you have enjoyed or learn is in the past, it is here, it's still here now and it's still stuff that you can learn. Prime example, I just had a resident tell me how, how intrigued she was by learning something simple as Mahjong, but then seeing how many benefits she's gotten from the mental ability to try to keep up with playing Mahjong. It wasn't a physical activity, but it really got her engaged. And she gets up now to go play Mahjong. Or she, you know, is really looking forward to being able to say, I won Mahjong. So it's taking those simple pleasures of you not being able to do something before and now you're being able to do it, you know, at this point of your life, wherever that is, even if you're in your thirties or your forties, but always being okay where you are and being able to find happiness where you are. And that's what I strive for, is to make sure that they are happy where they are and they are looking forward to continuing to live.

- And when it does come to that, that fitness, that physical aspect of what you're doing day to day with your body, doesn't our body sort of give off that feeling of, of not accomplishment, but what, help me, help me with the right word here.

- Like euphoria, it's like, it's a high, you get a high from it, you know, and you get something to talk about. You know, I told the seniors here that even if you didn't like it, you have something new to talk about. You can talk about how you didn't like it, but at least you have something new. So when they call mom and dad, they can say, "Oh, I tried this, didn't like it." But now I gave you something fresh to talk about. Even if it wasn't your cup of tea, you tried it and now you have something to talk about that's new in your life, you know? So it's not always the things that you might say, "Oh, that is what I love and love to do." But it's also being open to experiencing new things. Even if you like it or not, you know?

- Yeah, I love that. I love all the tips. We have some tips on, on physical fitness indoors when the days get a little shorter, obviously, ways that you can make yourself happy. Like you said, and then I'm taking away from both aspects of that and adding something new to your day. And that's really what it's all about. You know, when we come, when it comes to retirement, what is something new that I can add to my list of things to do today and just really take life for what it is and run with it. And I love all of these tips, Veronica, thank you so much for being our guest today.

- Oh, you're welcome. No problem, any time.

- Excellent, thank you. Now, if you would like to learn more tips, whether it's from Veronica or any of our guests, just like this, all about senior living, you can head on over to our website at www.seniorlivinglive.com. There you will find a video vault full of information available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always, we thank you so much for finding us, whether it's via video or podcast, Senior Living Live, have a great day, everybody.

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