It’s no secret that physicality gets harder as we get older. Due in large part to ageing effects on everything from muscle mass to bone density, our joints get stiff and our mobility seems to vanish into the ether.
This can be incredibly difficult to come to terms with, and loss of mobility, in particular, can make provisions like live-in carers and endless hospital appointments necessary. It’s not what any of us want, but often we assume that it’s just one of those things that comes alongside the onward march of age.
To some extent this is true. Inevitably, age takes its toll on our bones, strength, and everything else. Certainly, carers, etc. are the best option for safety at all times when this happens. But, to assume that it’s all over because mobility has started to falter isn’t necessarily the case.
In reality, exercise could turn things around. Certainly, the right approach could see you steady and feeling stronger even if you previously considered yourself over the hill. However, with safety in mind, it is worth noting that mobility and exercise don’t automatically go hand-in-hand, with one serious fall posing some pretty significant risks. With that in mind, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you fall for mobility exercises in the right way.
Step 1 – Highlight crucial areas
Firstly, it’s important to be realistic. A full-body workout that gets the heart pumping might not be best for you anymore, certainly if you’re dealing with existing health conditions. Rather, mobility-based exercises tend to have narrower focuses. By getting your head around these fundamentals, you stand a much better chance at reaching manageable results and feeling notably better or steadier for them.
As we’ll discuss a little later, stretches that highlight key areas are especially beneficial from a mobility standpoint, but in all your efforts, you’ll want to tailor your focuses around –
- Biceps/upper arms
- Lower core
Each of these areas plays a part, and strengthening from the source is guaranteed to help you overcome current setbacks.
Step 2 – Learn to walk before you run
Once you know where to focus, it can be tempting to go all out with heavy-handed exercise. After all, you’re desperate to undo the damage of ageing, and an all-guns-blazing approach can often seem best.
In reality, though, this is precisely why a lot of exercises for seniors end in injury. Literally running before you can walk could lead to falls with serious consequences that hinder rather than help your mobility in the long run. A sprained ankle or something similar will certainly leave you off your feet for a while, as well as weakening key joints even more.
Rather, mobility exercises are all about starting small. We’ll discuss specific exercises to focus on later but, predominantly, you want to get yourself moving in even tiny ways. Something as simple as a walk around the block each morning is enough to meet that goal and meet it much faster than you might imagine, as well as preventing the falls that often come from running. Once you’ve built up this habit, you might want to progress to a gentle jog, or you may prefer to stick with walking which, even on its own, can have a huge impact on how mobile you are and for how long.
If you do not have the opportunity to leave the house often, something that is currently affecting many people, there are many ways to exercise at home, and you can even get some exercise while sitting down with the help of a simple pedal exercise machine.
Step 3 – Focus on key exercises
As we’ve hinted, a small arsenal of key exercises that you can turn to time and again is really where the true benefits of a fitness habit lie from a mobility standpoint. What’s more, by getting into the habit of doing a few key stretches each day, they become staple parts of your routine that you don’t even have to think twice about.
Honestly, settling on the ideal solutions is really about finding what works for you, but some of the best exercises to focus on include:
- Chair stretches – Ideal for working your quads, hamstring, ankles and more, chair stretches are a fantastic exercise option for individuals of all capabilities. As well as offering some level of comfort for those already struggling with mobility, this gentle approach can help you to strengthen those joints with just a few minutes of work. Even better, you could do these stretches from the comfort of your chair while you watch your favourite shows!
- Lunges – Lunges are another exercise that you can do wherever you are, yet they hold invaluable benefits for the core strength that, ultimately, is going to help you to stay steadier on your feet moving forward. Again, you can start these with the support of a chair but you should aim to build to free-standing lunges. You may struggle to get low at first but that’s not a problem. The main thing is that you keep your back straight and make sure not to strain. Slowly, your ability should build of its own accord.
- Sit to stands – Keeping with the chair theme, it’s also worth practising sit to stands where you quite simply lift yourself out of the chair without support and then sit down again. It couldn’t be simpler, but doing this as much as ten times a day will make a huge difference again to core strength, but also to building your centre of gravity.
- Plank – Honestly, most yoga poses hold significant benefits from a mobility standpoint, but plank is especially useful for both mobility and abdominal strength building. To complete this exercise, lie facing the floor with elbows and knees on the ground, then lift yourself for thirty-second intervals ten times.
A final word
Exercising when you’re already staring down the barrel of mobility problems can be daunting but, as you can see here, it needn’t be complicated or even overly difficult. Rather, mobility exercises are easy to slot into your daily routine, yet they could make a huge difference. Even better, this slow approach to strength building could see you willing to tackle much more exertive exercises moving forward.