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One of the side effects of COVID-19 isolation has been inactivity, which inevitably leads to putting on some extra weight. With gyms closed and few distractions, many seniors have added a few pounds during the pandemic closures. Luckily, it doesn’t take long to transition back to wellness, starting by eating healthier snacks and adopting some at-home exercises.

Healthy meal ideas from your pantry

While being home more often means easy access to the refrigerator, there are ways to make mealtimes more healthy. Rather than reaching for a bag of potato chips, take a deep dive into your pantry and get creative with meal ideas that don’t involve a trip to the grocery store.

At the start of the coronavirus lockdowns, many people stocked up on shelf-stable foods such as dried pasta and boxes of mac-n-cheese. If you have a box or two hiding out at the back of the pantry, pair it with a frozen vegetable—peas, broccoli, or carrots— from the freezer for a healthy mac-n-cheese bowl.

Another great option is a legume quesadilla, helping to use up some of those canned beans and tomatoes collecting dust on your shelves. Using tortillas, cheese, legumes, and vegetables, you’ll load up on protein and have a tasty meal as well. And if you’re trying to cut down on calories, The Modern Proper suggests baking rather than frying your quesadilla.

Professional guidance

If you’re in a complete rut with your diet and need some help with meal planning, you may benefit from hiring a freelance dietitian. Dietitians can be great for seniors who feel like no matter what, it’s hard to lose weight and gain energy, or who simply struggle with proper nutrition on a fixed income. By developing a new meal plan with a dietitian, you can kick start healthy habits and benefit from having someone to answer any questions that come up.

Exercises to do at home

One of the best ways to ease into a workout regimen is with professional guidance, such as with Yoga Mike. Yet with COVID-19 is still going around, many seniors are still avoiding gyms, even if they have reopened in your area. While it may not seem feasible to get a good workout at home, you’d be surprised at what you can do in your own living room.

Yoga is an excellent option for seniors who want to do a low-impact form of exercise at home. There are plenty of forms of yoga that can be helpful for seniors, including restorative practices, which can help improve flexibility and joint mobility. More active forms of yoga include vinyasa and ashtanga, which focus on breathwork throughout the various poses. 

Other great home-exercise options for seniors include balance challenges and light weight lifting. Silver Sneakers says seniors who are working on general mobility would benefit from exercises like a sit-to-stand and the “farmer’s walk.”

Online trainers 

Along with online yoga training, many personal trainers offer private sessions online as well. After assessing what your fitness goals are, personal trainers can set up a workout plan for you that caters to your home gym amenities, whether it’s as basic as a yoga mat in your living room or a full-on weight rack in the garage. You can either hire a coach for personalized workouts, or check out online fitness trainers who specialize in low-impact exercises.

As you think of ways to kickstart your fitness and lose some of those isolation pounds, remember to look in the pantry and come up with some creative recipes that use what you already have at home. Consider hiring professionals who can help you adjust your diet and start exercising properly, and look into online help. Thanks to small changes, soon you’ll be fit as a fiddle!

Karen Weeks