Three Easy Ways to Exercise Indoors That Don’t Require Special Equipment

When cold weather comes to town, our exercise routines often go out the door. Exercising outside in pleasant weather isn’t too hard to muster up the motivation to do. Walking, swimming, or playing badminton are all pastimes that seem more like fun than work.

But when the temperatures aren’t ideal for being out and about, our exercise routines have to move inside. And unless you have a nice home gym set, it can be easy to feel like there’s nothing you can do to keep up the same level of activity.

You may feel that you need to purchase specialized equipment to help you exercise inside, which would be an expense and a hassle. But there are plenty of things you can do indoors to keep yourself moving without having to purchase a thing.

Dancing

Dancing is one of the most enjoyable indoor exercise activities. The easiest thing to do is just to start playing music of your choice and moving around to it. I enjoy playing music while I clean the house or cook. It puts an extra spring in my step and makes me more likely to move briskly while working.

If you want more structure than impromptu activities provide, you can watch dance-based exercise videos. If you don’t own any, there’s no need to make a purchase. YouTube has plenty of free videos you can view, like this Free Easy Dance Exercises for Senior Adults that comes on Hawaii public television.

Lifting Milk Jugs

Feel like you need some strength training but don’t have a set of weights? Milk jug lifting is cheap and highly flexible. If you can find two empty milk jugs, then clean them out to use for lifting.

You control the weight of the jugs by filling them with water. This makes the poundage easily adjustable. All you have to do is put in more water to make them heavier or pour water out to make them lighter.

Water bottles can also be used as dumbbells. This article on Livestrong gives good tips on how to work out with both types of homemade weights.

Cleaning the House

Cleaning the house sounds like a chore and not an exercise plan. But if you set a routine and make some modifications to your movements, it can become a regular part of your exercise program.

First, set a routine, just as you would with any other exercise. Consider what types of chores use what types of muscles. Try to rotate the kinds of activities you are doing, giving the parts of your body you just used a rest day in between.

One day you might want to do chores like sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping, which use the big muscles in your arms, legs, and back. These activities also get your heart rate up if you are moving briskly. It would be like doing a strengthening and cardio exercise.

Another day you could do exercises that work on flexibility and balance. Use window and mirror washing to practice extending your reach. When folding laundry, put your clothes on one side and your folding surface on the other, so you have to twist back and forth (Let’s do the twist!) at the waist to bring the clothes from the basket to the table.  Just remember to use safe techniques when lifting heavy items such as laundry baskets.

If you do want to add an affordable, compact piece of exercise equipment to your routine, ILA has a Pedal Exerciser that mimics the movements of a bicycle while taking up less than half the space of a stationary bike.  

 

Photo by Martin Barák on Unsplash

Low-Cost Ways To Stay Warm When It’s Cold Outside

The bitter cold of winter can increase both your discomfort and your power bills. For people who have health problems such as arthritis, this can be a dilemma. Turning up the heat means losing money. Turning down the heat means losing comfort.

It seems like a no-win situation. But there are some low-cost ways you can help yourself stay warm when it’s cold outside. Optimizing the insulation of your home and your body will help you dial up the heat without moving the thermostat.

Layers

The first line of defense against the cold is layering. I remember a winter from my early 20s where a snowstorm knocked out the electricity for days. My cheap, ground-floor apartment was freezing. I wore several layers during the day, and at night, I slept in socks and a hat.

Even if you have functional heat, you may want to sleep with a hat and socks. I wear socks to bed every night just because I like to be warm. And during the winter I drink hot drinks several times a day. They not only help heat up your hands and face, but they keep you from getting dehydrated in the dry winter climate.

For underneath layers, choose materials that are thin, yet warm. You don’t want to restrict your movements with too much bulk. But having something close to your skin that will hold in your body heat is ideal. ILA carries angora warmers for your knees, lower back, and shoulder. These warmers are thin and light, but thermal, thanks to the hollow structure of their natural fibers.

Optimize The Use Of Your Windows

Having a lot of windows in the winter can be good or bad, depending on how you use them. Poorly insulated windows will allow your heat to seep out. Making sure they are weatherized and caulked can significantly reduce your power bill when it gets cold. (Or hot.)

If you aren’t able to do home renovations but know your windows need work, covering them in bubble wrap can help. Bubble wrap is a great insulator, and you can often collect it for free from people who get a lot of packages in the mail. Tape the bubble wrap over your entire window, especially paying attention to the seams. It may not look attractive, but it will make a difference.

Your windows can also be used to bring in heat. When it’s sunny outside, open your curtains and blinds. Sun streaming through a glass window can warm up the air quickly. Once the sun starts to set, you should close the blinds again. Collecting and trapping heat is a great way to give your thermostat a boost.

Draft Dodging

Eliminating drafts and reducing the size of the space you need heated are other ways to save money. Putting down rugs or carpet on hard floors will keep your feet and body warmer without having to change the temperature of the whole room.

Closing off unused rooms helps when you are running central heat or space heaters. No need to pay for heating areas of your home that no one is in. And when you close of empty spaces, put down door snakes to keep the cold air from seeping out of those drafty rooms into your toasty living area.

Does that hot drink sound good now? ILA has the Hot Shot Beverage Maker available online. The Hot Shot heats single servings of hot water to bring you drinks, soups, or hot cereals in 90 seconds.

 

Photo by YUNXI SHI on Unsplash

Three Great Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day With Someone Who Is Visually Impaired

Valentine’s Day is often associated with giving gifts, such as cards, candy, and flowers. If you have a special someone in your life who is visually impaired, you may be wondering how to create a traditional Valentine’s experience that makes more use of the other four senses.

Music to Set the Mood

Adults can do a little listening to some mood music. Find something romantic and pop it into your CD player. Or, if you like to move, create a dance floor set-up and make your own party at home. A good gift set would be a CD of your favorite music bundled with a large button CD player.

And kids love to play games to music. They can have a freestyle dance, or you can do something structured. One idea is to sit in a circle, with music playing, and pass around a heart. When the music stops, everyone must say something kind or complimentary about the child who is left holding the heart.

Are you musically talented? One of the best gifts you could give is a personalized song. Whether singing about the beauty of your true love, or the things you like about your five-year-old, custom made songs are always a hit. If you’re not up to composing your own tune, take a well-known song and just change the words.

Food Can Be Fun

Since most people enjoy going out to eat on Valentine’s Day, or receiving boxes of chocolates or candies, you can try to up the entertainment value.

Adults may want to turn mealtime into an activity. Choose a fancy recipe for the special occasion and learn some new culinary skills. Cooking together is good for bonding. Cooking Without Looking is one resource you can check for ideas on managing meal prep with low vision.

For kids or adults, add some tactile elements to your Valentine’s treats. Heart shaped cakes or candies would be fun to receive. Or serving your meal or treats on bright red plates might give some interesting contrast for people with low vision.  

Valentine’s Themed Presents

Valentine’s Day is not just for romance. You can show your love to friends and family as well. Some Valentine’s Day themed gifts you can give to everyone include Braille jewelry. ILA has necklaces that say Friend, Love, Best Friend, and I Heart You.

Want a card that makes an impression? Use a Raised-Line Drawing Board to create your own Valentine’s Day greeting. Just draw what you want with a standard pen, and whatever you write will be able to be felt.

For a kids’ craft try making hearts or raised messages out of Wikki Stix. Wikki Stix are easy to use, and the design possibilities are endless. Another idea is to take craft items such as buttons, fabric squares, and sequins and sort them into cupcake tins. Provide paper and glue for making cards, and have the kids create a scene.

There are a lot of ways to make your Valentine’s activities go beyond the traditional card on paper. Try some of these ideas to add excitement to the holiday, and then come back and let us know how it went in the comments.

ILA wishes you and your loved ones a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Low Vision: What Is It?

Low vision is a permanent state of visual impairment. My vision is very poor without contacts, but I don’t have a clinical diagnosis of low vision. That’s because my contacts do an excellent job of correcting my vision.

People with low vision do not get a good correction from eyeglasses, contacts, surgery, or medication. Low vision can interfere with everyday activities and limit an individual’s independence.

Vision and Aging

Eye disease does not always present with symptoms early on. It’s important for people over the age of 50 to get a regular eye exam to detect and treat any possible conditions. Early treatment can help prevent vision loss.

Some of the most common problems include:

  • Cataracts
  • Dry eye
  • Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • General Low Vision

According to the National Eye Health Education Program, “…4.2 million Americans ages 40 and older are visually impaired. By 2030, when the last baby boomers turn 65, this number is projected to reach 7.2 million, with 5 million having low vision.”

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is not just one thing. It is a group of eye diseases that damage the optic nerve. The damage is caused by pressure from fluid build up inside the eye. Early glaucoma has no symptoms, which is why it’s important to get tested for it.

Some people are at higher risk for glaucoma than others, but everyone over age 60 should be checked regularly. Approximately half the people that have glaucoma don’t know it. Glaucoma affects your peripheral view. It will narrow your field of vision, and if left untreated, can eventually cause total blindness. Vision loss from glaucoma can never be repaired.

Diabetic Eye Disease

Diabetic eye disease also includes more than one type of impairment. Diabetes can cause cataracts and glaucoma, but diabetic retinopathy is the most common visual complication.

Diabetic retinopathy is the number one cause of vision loss and blindness in adults. The risk of developing it increases the longer you have lived with diabetes. The National Institute of Health says, “Chronically high blood sugar from diabetes is associated with damage to the tiny blood vessels in the retina, leading to diabetic retinopathy….Diabetic retinopathy can cause blood vessels in the retina to leak fluid or hemorrhage (bleed), distorting vision. In its most advanced stage, new abnormal blood vessels proliferate (increase in number) on the surface of the retina, which can lead to scarring and cell loss in the retina.”

Creating awareness is essential because diabetic eye diseases also have no symptoms in the early stages.

Cataracts

Cataracts develop slowly and don’t usually give any immediate warning that they have started to form. Cataracts impair vision by making the lens of your eye cloudy. Some of the symptoms are:

  • Cloudy or blurred vision
  • Increased difficulty with night vision
  • Need for brighter light when reading or doing tasks
  • Seeing halos around lights
  • Fading of colors

Although small cataracts may not interfere much with your vision, your sight will worsen as they continue to grow. If you experience any of these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.

The treatment for cataracts is surgery. Fortunately, cataract surgery is a common and procedure and is usually safe and effective.

Low Vision Awareness Month

February is Low Vision Awareness Month. With an aging population, awareness of the importance of regular eye exams could greatly reduce the number of people who develop low vision in the future. Make it your goal to share with someone the facts about low vision. If they’ve not seen a doctor recently, encourage them to make an appointment today.

Are you developing low vision? ILA has over 100 products to help make your life easier and your tasks more manageable. You can find them here.

Photo by Daniil Avilov on Unsplash