Cold weather and poor air quality are forcing many people to stay indoors, but lack of physical activity can harm the immune system, especially among the elderly, and increase the chance of getting flu or pneumonia.
The basal metabolism, which accounts for 60 percent of the daily energy people use, usually stays low in summer and high in winter.
People who have more skeletal muscles tend to have a higher basal metabolism. Increasing skeletal muscles in winter can boost the basal metabolism and help people lose weight.
Squats are one of the easiest exercises people can do at home, and even the elderly can still do a form of squat by sitting on a chair. Squats train muscles in the buttocks and hamstrings, which account for 70 percent of muscles in the entire body.
Building up core muscles is essential to stay strong and keep better balance, especially as people age, so the elderly should strengthen core muscles by repeating the action of lifting the heels and bringing them down.
According to Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, consciously moving the body 10 more minutes every day decreases the chance of dying by 2.8 percent, the risk of common lifestyle diseases such as hypertension or diabetes by 3.6 percent, the risk of cancer by 3.2 percent, and of dementia by 8.8 percent.
This can be done by taking bigger steps, browsing in shops for 10 more minutes, taking a walk for 10 minutes after lunch, going out at weekends to see a friend, and calling in at a shop or office for a question rather than making a phone call.
In cold weather, blood vessels contract to minimize heat loss, and this can put pressure on the heart. When people move from the warm indoors to the cold outdoors, blood pressure fluctuates greatly, and this can force heart vessels to contract excessively and cause a heart attack.
Therefore exercising indoors is better in winter. If it has to be done outdoors, try to avoid mornings or evenings and choose a sunny time of the day.
A proper warm-up before exercise is vital as it increases muscle flexibility and prevents injuries.