20 Aug Tips to staying mobile and flexible when it’s hard to do.
As we age, our bodies change, and moving around isn’t as easy as it once was. But just because you can’t do a backflip or run a 40-yard dash in record time anymore, it doesn’t mean you should stop trying to figure out ways to keep your body active. The best way to stay mobile is to not stop in the first place. We can’t always control what happens to our bodies – genetics, emotional health and disease can change our abilities to stay mobile. It’s important that you don’t give up and keeping looking for ways that work best for you to keep you as independent as long as possible.
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Before you devise a plan on how to stay mobile, you need to figure out how mobile you already are. It’s not something that primary care physicians always test for. If yours doesn’t, then you should consider asking about it. Researchers at the University of Alabama looked at dozens of studies on mobility and discovered there are several common factors that lead to an inability to get around. Older age, low physical activity, obesity, impaired strength and balance and chronic diseases can all play a role. Less obvious factors can include depression, memory problems, a recent hospitalization, alcohol or tobacco use and even simply being female. Researchers found one or more of these can put you at risk for lower mobility.
The University of Alabama study suggests these two questions to test out mobility:
- For health or physical reasons, do you have difficulty climbing up 10 steps or walking one-quarter mile?
- Because of underlying health or physical reasons, have you modified the way you climb 10 steps or walk a quarter of a mile?
Researchers say what makes this test so beneficial is you don’t have to go to a doctor to answer the questions.
If climbing stairs or walking any distance is hard for you, don’t write it off and accept it. Discuss the problems with your doctor, because there are things that can be done now to slow down progression and allow you more time to age in place.
Ways To Maintain or Improve Mobility
Balance can become an issue as we age. We just aren’t as steady on our feet as we once were, and it makes falling more likely. Maintaining an active lifestyle and a healthy weight can help. Strength training is also a good way to improve your balance.
If exercise has been part of your daily routine since you were young, then make sure to keep walking, running, swimming – whatever it is – that keeps you moving. It’s not just about maintaining your health, it also helps ensure your independence for a lot longer.
Experts recommend seniors get moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week and do major muscle group strengthening activities two or more days a week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says less than a third of Americans 65 and older meet this recommendation.
If you need to find a place to exercise, the International Council on Active Aging has created an Age Friendly Facilities and Services Locator. With a few simple clicks, you can find a fitness center or gym that meets your needs. These places will be more likely to offer classes and activities geared toward seniors.
The National Council on Aging has compiled a list of programs available to seniors that can help you stay fit, no matter your activity level. Some are even geared toward specific health-related issues.
This is a low-cost program that offers exercise options for the fit to the frail. Classes usually last an hour and work on flexibility, balance and strength through exercise.
Fit And Strong!
This eight-week program is for seniors with lower extremity osteoarthritis. It combines aerobic activity with health education to improve lower extremity stiffness and pain.
Geri-Fit focuses on progressive resistance strength training. Classes are 45 minutes and held twice a week. Exercises are performed while you sit in a chair. You can stand and participate if you are able.
Healthy Moves For Aging Well
Healthy Moves for Aging Well is an in-home physical activity program that is specific to the individual. Its purpose is to raise the activity level of older, more sedentary seniors. The trained coaches follow-up with participants on the phone to help them set healthy living goals.
Walk With Ease
The Arthritis Foundation has its own program called Walk with Ease. It develops specific walking plans for seniors with arthritis to help them stay motivated, manage their pain and exercise safely.