How seniors can keep active while staying safe this summer

As we continue through the warm summer months, we look for outdoor and indoor activities to keep busy. For seniors who reside in long-term care facilities, getting the chance to go outside during the warm weather days can be difficult. Local assisted living facilities and nursing homes have activities and programs enabling seniors to stay active without breaking a sweat. Some examples include balloon tennis, bean bag toss, ring toss, gardening, cooking, or seated chair exercises. Facilities benefiting from having onsite therapy services invite residents to utilize their equipment for quick exercises; some examples include an arm pedal exerciser or a simple exercise bike.

One activity that has become popular in longterm care facilities is Wii Bowling. The system is small, compact and does not require a lot of space for participants.

Phyllis Bacon, a Sheboygan Health Services resident said, “What I like about Wii Bowling is it gives me exercise. I learned where to put the ball and position my swing. I started playing when we had a contest and after that I got hooked. I bowl sometimes twice a day. I play for about an hour to an hour and a half, even weekends too. I recently bowled my fourth perfect score of 300!”

Seniors who enjoy summer outdoors may participate in activities such as walking, jogging, gardening or swimming. However, with the heat of the summer, regardless if it is an outdoor or indoor activity, dehydration becomes a great threat.

Dehydration in seniors is often due to the lack of water intake. As people age, they become less aware of being thirsty, the body’s ability to balance its fluids lowers and water is lost overall.

According to, until about age 40, the proportion of total body fluids to body weight is about 60 percent in men and 52 percent in women. After age 60, the proportion goes down to 52 percent in men and 46 percent in women. This decline is due to the loss of muscle mass and corresponding increase in fat cells.

Performing activities in the summer heat can quicken the pace of getting dehydrated. Some tips for seniors to stay hydrated include: 1. Drink water! Everyone seems to know this but often forget until they feel thirsty. The general rule of thumb is to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. However, for those seniors who are able to get outside in the summer heat, water intake should increase.

2. Don’t wait until you’re feeling thirsty to drink water; at that point, dehydration has already started.

3. If you’re frequently active outside, mix up your water intake with sports drinks to help replenish your body of electrolytes with fluids.

Whatever activities you choose to enjoy during the summer and however you perform them, please do so with caution in the summer heat. We get caught up with beautiful, warm weather and forget that inside, our bodies need nourishment.

Erica Gollhardt, the admissions/marketing director for Sheboygan Health Services, is a member of the Sheboygan County Activity and Nutrition Coalition.