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AGEWISE: Walking a great exercise for seniors
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AGEWISE: Walking a great exercise for seniors

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Q: I took up walking earlier in the year to get a little exercise and to get out of the house for a bit. It’s starting to get cold, and I’ve lost some of my motivation. I also wonder if the cold is bad for seniors.

— MB

Answer: Walking is great exercise — especially for seniors. Many studies have shown it is important for our physical and mental health to stay active year round.

Although frosty temperatures may tempt you to stay inside on a warm couch, exercising in the colder months has added benefits like burning more calories. You can continue your outdoor activities by taking a few precautions for the colder temperatures. However, you may want to consider a few indoor alternatives on icy or snowy days to prevent the risk of falls.

As with any exercise it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor, especially if you are just beginning an exercise routine, if you have any preexisting conditions, or have had an onset of new symptoms.

First of all, before heading outside make sure your clothing is layered and warm enough. Consider using a moisture wicking fabric, which moves sweat to the fabric's outer layer, as the first layer against your skin. Adding another synthetic layer over that and then an insulating, and possibly waterproof coat will provide a lot of warmth. Use a thick hat to keep your head warm and do not forget about gloves for your hands, especially if you want to keep your arms moving for a more vigorous workout.

If temperatures are dipping below freezing covering your face with a scarf will keep your nose and mouth warm. If you are already wearing a face mask, that should work nicely. Lastly, do not forget about your feet. Socks should be moisture wicking too and not cotton. Shoes should have good insulation and the bottom should provide a good grip for different terrain.

Be sure to use sunscreen. Even though the weather is chilly it’s important to protect your skin from the sun. Also remember that staying hydrated is just as important in the winter as in the spring and summer. Colder weather usually means drier air and drinking enough water is essential.

You should avoid taking walks outside when the ground is icy or snow covered. On those occasions, consider taking a walk indoors at a local mall, if the road is safe to get there. Most shopping malls open early, even before stores do. They are less likely to have large crowds and the floors are flat and less hazardous. You can also exercise at home using small hand weights or by streaming an exercise video. You can even put on some of your favorite music and dance around the house for some fun exercise.

How can you make sure you get up off the warm and comfy couch to exercise? Schedule a time to walk or exercise. Try to make it the same time every day so it becomes a habit. Ask a friend to walk with you but remember to wear your mask and remain socially distanced.

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Q: I have heard about money transfer apps which can be used instead of checks. How do they work and what are some of the things to watch out for when using them?

— LZ

Answer: The use of personal written checks has been declining in recent years. Fewer people are using personal checks and are turning instead to digital means to shop, bank and send money to family and friends. These digital apps, sometimes called person-to-person or peer-to-peer (P2P), allow monetary transactions to be completed with greater speed and convenience.

Some of the most popular money transfer apps include Zelle, Venmo, Paypal, and Cash App. These P2P apps have encrypted payment information which adds a layer of security.

Zelle is actually included within most banking applications. Odds are if you bank online or from your mobile phone you’ve seen an option to enroll in Zelle somewhere on your bank account page.

Typically, these apps do not charge fees for most transactions, though some do charge for payments made by credit cards or for international transactions.

When you enroll on an app to transfer money to another person you generally only need the person’s email address or mobile phone number. No bank information is exchanged between the sender or the receiver. Most of these apps require the person receiving the funds to have an account on the same app. For instance, if you are sending money by Zelle the person receiving the money must also have a Zelle account. If you send funds to someone who is not signed up for the particular app, they will receive a notification with instructions on how to enroll on the app to receive the money.

One big benefit of the P2P apps is the speed and ease of the transaction. For example, if your out eating with a friend and want to split the bill you can quickly and easily transfer your share to your friend and avoid having to have the server run separate bank cards. Or if there is a financial emergency with a family member who is across the country you can immediately send money to them.

While there are many benefits to using money transfer applications, there are also some risks. You should keep in mind that money transfers are not refundable, insured and cannot usually be disputed. Once the payment has been issued it is difficult to get the money back. To minimize your risk, carefully check the information, email or mobile phone number for the person you are sending money to before hitting the send button.

Only send money to people you know well. Keep your app up to date to protect it from hackers. Be alert to phishing scams asking for your bank information, email, phone number, or name. These apps will never ask you for this information.

In addition, do not use public Wi-Fi to send or receive money. When used carefully with necessary precautions and these apps can be very convenient and efficient in transferring money to loved ones.

AgeWise is a weekly column compiled by staff of Senior Services Inc., a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem. If you have a question, email agewise@seniorservicesinc.org or mail to Senior Services, 2895 Shorefair Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27105.

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