One of the best ways you can help your elderly parents stay healthy is to encourage them to stay active. No matter what time of year, engaging in regular physical activity provides a much-needed physical and mental health boost. Staying  active is a great way to support a healthy weight. And that’s not all. It also contributes to brain health, increases mobility and balance, improves immune function, and improves sleep quality.
During the warmer months, it’s easier for everyone to stay active. But as the temperature drops, there is a strong temptation to snuggle up and stay inside.
Dangers of Inactivity
As  we age, staying active becomes increasingly important. If your parents fall into a sedentary lifestyle it can have terrible effects. For example, it can make it harder for them to do the physical activities they’re used to doing. Research shows that other drawbacks include:
- Physical Problems: Inactivity increases the risk of developing high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and heart conditions
- Mental Problems: Inactivity also makes it more likely your parents will experience greater stress and more anxiety and/or depression
- Imbalance and Loss of Coordination: Moving less increases the probability of falling
Ideas for Indoor Winter Activities
Even  if the weather outside is frightful your elderly parents can still get active and stay engaged. One of the easiest ways to do so is by taking an indoor walk. The grocery store or the local mall offers ample space and flat terrain that makes it easy to get their steps in. But if getting them out of the house isn’t possible, consider getting them moving more by cranking up some tunes and having a good, old-fashioned dance-off. Other ideas for indoor fitness fun include the following:
- Swimming: It’s among the most beneficial low-impact activities. It can boost mental and physical health. Depending on where your parents live, you might find an indoor heated pool at the local recreational center or you might be able to arrange to use the pool at a local hotel.
- Fitness Videos: Pop a DVD in the player or stream a popular workout online or on the smart television. There are tons of options out there for workouts tailored to older adults.
- Indoor Gardening: Believe it or not, gardening is an effective physical activity. Starting an indoor garden is a great way to encourage your parents to get moving. Benefits also include stress reduction, increased relaxation, and lower risk of dementia.
Ideas for Outdoor Winter Activities
Winter  isn’t always snow, ice, and blustery winds. When the sidewalks are clear and the weather is sunny, your parents may want to get outdoors. A brisk walk can be a fun way to get fresh air and improve fitness, especially if you tag along. Or you could arrange a day trip to a nearby historic town or city and take a walking tour together. If your parents want to get out of the house but actual physical activity outdoors isn’t possible, you can still have some fun. Consider these ideas:
- Driving Tours: Go see some holiday lights or decorations, drive past memorable locations that you can reminisce about together, or take a tour of nearby points of interest.
- Community Classes: These classes range from aerobics to yoga, with many options in between. They’re a fun way for your parents to move their bodies, have a little fun, and socialize with others.
- Go to an Indoor Attraction: An indoor arboretum or an aquarium is a great example of a destination that’s interesting, allows you to make memories together and move around.
Helping  your aging parents stay active during winter is a great opportunity to spend time having fun together. It can also be a little dangerous, particularly if there’s any snow or ice on the ground. Encourage your elderly parents to stick with indoor activities if there’s any risk of slipping and falling. If outdoor fun is on the menu, make sure they bundle up in layers, wear footwear with a good grip, and only walk on cleared sidewalks and surfaces to minimize the risk of injury.