As seniors age it is common for them to experience a loss mobility. This is the main reason for many seniors living less active lifestyles. When you’re used to walking around your entire life unaided, learning to walk with a walker, cane or even using a wheelchair is a struggle.
The world is harder for people with less mobility to get around but, thankfully laws are making it a little easier for the elderly as more areas are required to have accessibility features.
The good news is that there are exercises you can do to increase your mobility. Exercising regularly will allow you to walk with greater ease, feel more stable and be more confident.
6 Tips to Improve Your Mobility
1. Start or Maintain an Active Lifestyle
Lounging around on the couch all day won’t help you build muscle. It’s pertinent that you maintain an active lifestyle – or start transitioning into an active lifestyle now. Being active engages your muscles, helps you maintain your weight and will also help with flexibility.
Starting can be difficult for some, but it’s a lot easier than it sounds:
- Join a senior group
- Meet people on meetup.com
- Take walks around the park or neighborhood
Any activity is better than staying immobile. If you can walk around the block for twenty minutes a day, you’re well on your way to maintaining an active lifestyle and improving your mobility.
2. Use the Proper Walking Aid
Walking unassisted is great, but if your balance is impaired, the worst thing you can do is not walk with a walking aid. Use a walking aid that offers maximum mobility while working all your muscles properly.
If you need just a cane to walk, please don’t use a walker.
If you use a walking aid that offers too much assistance, this will cause you to use less of your muscles and rely on the walking aid too much. This is not a good way to remain mobile. Click here to find the right walking aid for your needs.
3. Work on Your Balance
One of the key most important things a person can do to maintain mobility is to work on balance. Why? A lack of proper balance can lead to slips and falls – something no elderly person wants.
A fall can set you back months, and if you break a hip or leg in the process, your mobility can end up worse than ever before.
Proper balance is the key to your mobility, and this balance comes from your:
- Core muscles
NIHSeniorHealth has a list of exercises geared towards seniors that are balance-oriented. A few of the exercises recommended are:
- Standing on One Foot: You can stand on one foot to improve your balance. This should be done in a safe environment, and whenever possible, stand next to a wall or bed you can use to brace yourself when you fall off balance.
- Side Leg Raises: Holding onto a sturdy surface, lift your leg sideways using just your hip muscles. This is an exercise that should be done on both legs.
- Back Leg Raises: Much like the side leg raises, back leg raises are done next to a surface you’re safe against. Lift your leg backwards, keeping the knee straight to engage the glutes.
Gentle Yoga is also becoming popular with seniors. It is fun, and gets you to move parts of your body you don’t normally use on a day-to-day basis.
If you work on your balance, you’ll be well on your way to improving your mobility.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight, or Start Dieting
Are you overweight? If so, your body needs to work in overdrive to be able to function properly. Added weight puts exponential weight on to your knees when you take a step or go down a step, and this is one of the most complained about pains for an elderly person.
You need to ensure you’re a healthy weight if you want to be mobile.
A few tips to losing and maintaining weight are:
- Track what you eat – Apps and even a journal can be used to track what you eat.
- Ditch the soft drinks – Water will keep you hydrated, eliminate headaches and has zero calories.
- Let go of junk food – All junk food must go (candy, sweets, processed food, etc.).
If you don’t know what body weight you ought to be, it’s time to talk to a nutritionist. A professional can help you determine your ideal body weight and provide you with a solid diet to stay healthy and keep the pounds off.
5. Engage in Strength Training
Contrary to popular belief, you can still gain muscle into your old age – if you’ve never weight trained before. There is a genetic limit, or so it seems, to how strong some people get. This may be a plateau, of course.
And while someone that has strength trained their whole life may not be able to gain more muscle, if you haven’t strength trained seriously, you can gain muscle and strength to help you regain your mobility.
You’re a senior, so you want to take it nice and slow.
A personal trainer that deals with senior strength training is best. You’ll likely be in the gym 3 – 4 times a week, and this will be more than enough time to be able to build strength, lose fat and regain your balance.
6. Discuss Your Health with a Doctor
I wasn’t going to put this tip in here, but it’s vital to your health and well-being. A doctor will update you on your health. You may have a health condition that doesn’t permit you to be active, and if you do, it’s important to know what your limitations are before moving forward.
You’ll also want to discuss your mobility with your medical professional.
Ask him or her which exercises or activities they recommend that you do to better your mobility.
And if possible, ask if the doctor recommends going to a physical therapist or personal trainer. Oftentimes, your doctor will be able to recommend a highly trained professional to provide you with the help and guidance you need to improve your mobility.
Whenever you engage in an activity, make sure you put safety first so that you don’t injure yourself. Injuries for seniors can impede any progress made on mobility and can cause a serious loss of mobility, depending on the severity of the injury.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.