6 Tips to Improve Mobility in Seniors

seniors need exercise

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.

Why?

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
  • Back
  • Butt
  • Hips

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.

Yoga: Stretching and Exercise for Enhanced Mobility in Seniors

seniors doing yoga

Seniors should aim for functional strength and flexibility. You won’t see many seniors trying to bench press 200 pounds or squat 300 pounds of weight. And I’m pretty sure there are quite a few that could achieve these feats.

The reason seniors need to work on functional exercises is because atrophy and flexibility loss occurs in a lot of people. Bad knees, shoulders and joints may also cause the inability to perform some exercises.

The right exercises and stretching will help a senior enhance their mobility.

Yoga for Seniors

Yoga is one of the best forms of exercise a person can engage in no matter the age. The great thing about yoga is that a person can gain and maintain muscle, and yoga helps you maintain and gain flexibility, too. However, don’t jump into a high-tempo yoga class with a bunch of 20-year-olds and expect to keep up.

Try a yoga for seniors groups in your area – there will be quite a few. Yoga is great for increasing strength and will keep you away from needing to use a walking aid, such as a rollator, for much longer.

Stretching for seniors is also very important. The beauty of yoga is that it provides stretching as well as muscle gain. A few of the other many benefits that yoga offers are:

  • Arthritis pain relief
  • Muscle and strength gain
  • Decrease in fasting blood sugar levels
  • Mood elevation
  • Increased flexibility
  • Pain relief

So, what are you waiting for? Join a group in your area today.

Stretching Exercises for Elderly People

Seniors need a little more attention when it comes to the way that they exercise. Excess weight or difficult movements can result in injury, leaving you out of commission or confined to a wheelchair for months – not a good thing.

Stretching needs to be done gently and safely.

Added flexibility will also help a person live a more fulfilled life. Some of the difficult things to do when you’re too tight are:

  • Reach items on the top shelf
  • Bend over and pick up items
  • Sit straight

Tight muscles can also lead to pain or injury in some cases. Walking can be more difficult, too. A person with tight hamstrings may have difficulty maintaining a full stride, or a person may not be able to take a large enough step to go down a step comfortably.

Easy stretching exercises for seniors that are recommended are:

  1. Neck Stretch: Stretch the neck to both sides, forward and backward, holding each stretch for 30 seconds at a time.
  2. Shoulder Stretch: Shoulder stretches can be done in a variety of ways. Place your elbows on a counter, step backward and bend forward to stretch the shoulders. You can also grasp the top of a door or walk your fingers up the wall leaning forward to further stretch the shoulders.
  3. Ankle Stretch: The ankles may get tight, and there are multiple ways to stretch them. Cross your legs and use your hand to stretch the ankle side to side. Then, stand with your palms against the wall (in a pushing motion) and move one leg behind you with the toes of the forward leg against the wall. Bend the front leg until you feel a stretch.
  4. Back Stretch: Sitting on a chair, twist to one side while grasping the back of the chair to further the stretch as needed.
  5. Hamstring Stretch: Sitting on a bed, keep your legs straight with your toes up to the ceiling. Bend forward trying to grasp your toes to stretch out the hamstring.
  6. Groin Stretch: Sitting on a bed or on the floor, place the soles of your feet together to enter the butterfly position. Using your hands, gently push downward to the floor to stretch the groin.

Every workout for seniors must include stretching exercises so that a person can perform other exercises with full range of motion.

You want to follow easy stretching exercises that have a variety of intensities to be able to truly benefit from a stretching program.

Yoga offers a variety of difficulties that allow people with a number of mobility ranges to be able to work their way up to harder stretches. This is why so many physical therapists are recommending that their patients do yoga to stay fit and healthy.

If you feel confident with weight training, you can add this to your routine. Just make sure that you stick to lower weights at first to avoid injury before progressing. When it comes to exercising, the benefits can lead to a happier, longer and mobility-rich lifestyle well into old age.