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How Exercise Improves Mood

Christina Rice is the fitness director at NewBridge on the Charles. We asked Christina her advice on exercising during the winter months to squelch the winter blues.

Like most of us, Christina says the most important thing – and sometimes the hardest during the winter months – is just “getting there.” To inspire residents, she advises them to “start slow. Start small. Five minutes. Instead of the phone call, just walk somewhere.”

Christina has turned a lot of residents on to Fitbits or pedometers to monitor their steps. “Try to set a small goal of walking an extra 20 steps tomorrow,” she says. “Do what you can. The halls here are very long, and for some people that is their exercise. It’s a challenge to have to get from the farthest end of the building to the dining room and back twice a day. So, do what you can. Keep trying.”

As winter can also mean more loneliness for some, Christina advises finding a friend to exercise with. Why? “Because it makes their exercise program go by faster. They forget they are working out. Plus it provides a way to get to know some of your fellow residents.”

For the winter blues, just try to stay active, says Christina. “Plan accordingly. If you know that you’re starting to pull away, talk to somebody. Make plans with somebody. Also, we’re always here. I always let residents know we are always here to help them regroup, redo their exercise, talk about their goals, and help them find what works for them. For some it’s the pool, for others, it’s our group classes, and for others it’s playing with their grandchildren. That’s exercise, too.”

For residents who prefer exercising at home, there is a fee-for-service Fitness House Calls program. They can also work with you in the gym. “A lot of people use it when they’re transitioning back from physical therapy to the gym just because they’re looking for a bit more structure and guidance,” says Christina.

“We want our residents to find their joy in whatever it is that they’re doing,” she adds. “Our goal is to keep our residents happy, healthy, engaged, and independent.” 

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