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How to Maintain Your Mobility as You Age

Reclaim Your Independence: How to Maintain Your Mobility as You Age

As we age, it’s common to experience a decline in mobility. This can happen due to various reasons. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a cycle where lack of activity results in decreased likelihood of engaging in any physical activity, ultimately resulting in weakness. Additionally, age-related conditions like arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, or heart disease can contribute to mobility loss. This can affect our ability to enjoy life and may even force us to stay at home. At SeniorThrive, we encourage to take the best steps you can to maintain and even increase your mobility. We can all watch less news, sports and Netflix and get out and live life!

However, the good news is that we can take steps to maintain our mobility and compensate for any decline that may occur.

Increase Your Activities and Get Moving!

The first step towards a healthy lifestyle is to incorporate some physical activity in your daily routine. Prolonged periods of sitting have been found to have detrimental effects on your health, irrespective of your age. Therefore, it’s imperative to prioritize physical activity. A little increase in your daily activity levels can significantly improve your overall health. You don’t necessarily have to engage in rigorous workouts or sweat-inducing activities; even small improvements can make a big difference.

Not Sitting

If you spend long periods sitting, it’s essential to take breaks and move around a little. Some people prefer to do 10 minutes of activity every two hours of sitting, while others choose to do 2 minutes for every hour of sitting. The goal is to break up the sitting time with some movement. You could try going to the kitchen for a snack, straightening up a room, washing dishes, checking the mail, or stretching. Sitting for hours on end is unhealthy for watching TV, doing sedentary activities, or just lounging around. Additionally, listening to music can make it more enjoyable and help you stay motivated.

Walking

Going for a daily (or twice daily) walk is also a simple activity you can do. Walk around the block. Walk to the store to pick up just a few items so you’ll have to walk back the next day and get your exercise in. Explore your neighborhood and say hello to your neighbors. Once again, this doesn’t have to be an hours-long strenuous workout. Just stretch your legs a little and explore your immediate area.

Cardio

Now we’re heading into the workout zone. But don’t worry, it still doesn’t have to be a chore. Sign up for a Zumba class, or ballroom dancing. Do the moves that you can and don’t stress if you can’t get every step perfect.

Try walking a little faster. That will increase your heart rate and make the exercise aerobic. Swimming, biking, and gardening are all activities that can be considered cardio but are still pretty fun. The trick is to make the activity fun so you WANT to keep doing it.

Stretching

You need to stay limber to keep your mobility. Tight ankles, knees, and hips make walking more difficult. Tight shoulders make reaching into the cupboard and even dressing hard. If your neck is tight, you can’t look around to see any obstacles that might block your path. A stiff back makes it hard to walk. Yoga poses and tai chi are great ways to get stretching in. Or just move your body through the full range of motion possible during your 2- or 10-minute sitting breaks. We have a whole article on stretching as well so feel free to check it out here.

Strengthening

It’s really important to do exercise to keep your strength up. This can be difficult because strength exercises can often be boring. You can use resistance bands while you watch TV to exercise your arms. Light 1 lb. 2lb or 5lb dumbbells might work for this as well. 

Simple exercises such as squats, leg lifts, planks, etc. can be done during your 2-minute or 10-minute breaks in sitting. Doing just a little exercise at a time can be easier than trying to get a whole 20-minute workout in.

Yoga and chair yoga can be done to increase strength and balance, as well as a stretching exercise.

There are lots of free videos on YouTube with exercise routines. Maybe doing the exercises on these videos would make it more fun, or taking a live class would work.

Balance

Any exercise you do on one leg can help to work on your balance. Yoga and tai chi can help with stretching, strengthening, and balance. Be sure to have a chair or something close by to catch yourself if you lose your balance.

Nutrition And General Health

Eating a balanced diet can provide you with the nutrition you need to keep your mobility. You know the drill – fruits and vegetables, low-fat protein, high-fiber carbs, healthy fats. Make sure you get your blood tested by your doctor to see if you are getting the nutrition you need and make adjustments to your diet as needed.

Environment And Mobility Devices

You can do a home safety check to evaluate your home for mobility obstacles. Be sure there is adequate lighting, the floors aren’t slippery, and there is not too much clutter to trip over. You can install grab bars and handrails in different places throughout the house to keep yourself from falling.

You can talk to a doctor or physical therapist about mobility devices such as a cane or a walker to help you with balance as you get around. Stairlifts and elevators in your house can help you keep your mobility for flat surfaces if stairs have become a problem.

Through a combination of keeping active, keeping healthy, and modifying your environment, you can stay mobile and stay in your home as you age. SeniorThrive! can help active agers keep living in the home they enjoy. Learn what you need to know to keep the active life you love. 

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