To improve mobility as we age we need to start with a few simple exercises. Maintaining mobility as we age is essential to health and independence. Being able to walk, climb stairs, and drive well, are obvious reasons to ramp up mobility. But senior mobility is also a big factor in avoiding falls, injuries, and accidents as well. One way to improve your mobility is through targeted exercises that work on different parts of the body. According to the National Institutes of Health, mobility exercises should address four areas of concern: strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance, all of which work together to keep the body agile. Here’s a look at some of the best exercises to improve your mobility.
#1 – Strength exercises to improve mobility
Loss of muscle mass is part of aging, especially when exercise falls by the wayside for a more sedentary lifestyle. But it’s possible to rebuild muscles and strengthen bones and improve your mobility with strength training exercises. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guide, “Growing Stronger – Strength Training for Older Adults,” these exercises are safe for men and women, even those with chronic but stable health conditions.
The CDC recommends starting with a five-minute walk to warm up which helps make other exercises easier to complete. Next, work on hips, thighs, and buttocks with two repetitions of 10 squats from a standing position to sitting in a sturdy chair to standing again, with arms straight out.
For building upper body strength, try pushups, but against a wall, rather than on the floor. With feet apart, place hands on the wall at shoulder level and width, and bend arms into the wall for a count of four before pushing back to a count of four. Repeat 10 times then rest and repeat the set. Your arms, shoulders and chest will gain strength each time! Check out the CDC’s guide for more excellent strength exercises to improve your mobility.
#2 – Endurance exercises to improve mobility
Building endurance is also essential when trying to improve your mobility and there are many exercises that can help. One of the best types of endurance exercises is aerobic endurance training, which is also great for losing weight, lowering the risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, and strengthening cardiovascular health.
Aerobic exercise is essentially any exercise that is at least of moderate intensity for extended periods of time and that raises your heart rate, like jogging, biking, skiing, tennis, and dancing to name a few. To get a feel for the wide variety of aerobic exercises, check out YouTube and try them out with a friend for motivation. To be sure you are maximizing the workout, the National Senior Games Association’s article, “Aerobic Training for Older Adults,” describes the optimum frequency and duration to aim for.
#3 – Flexibility exercises to improve mobility
Increasing flexibility is another factor to consider when exercising to improve your mobility. Slowing down as we age decreases flexibility making many movements and daily tasks that much more difficult. But rebuilding flexibility is easy! One of the best ways to begin is with stretching exercises like those in the silversneakers.com blog, “7 Stretching Exercises for Seniors,” complete with videos.
Even for seniors who must or prefer to remain seated when exercising, there are plenty of options available to help improve your mobility and flexibility. The hurusa.com article, “Seated Flexibility Exercises for Seniors,” describes a range of flexibility exercises that target different areas like the neck, shoulders, back/spine, chest, arms, thighs, and even hands and ankles. When seeking to improve your mobility, flexibility exercises can help even the least mobile seniors begin to feel stronger and steadier.
#4 – Balance exercises to improve mobility
When balance becomes a struggle, seniors risk falls and other accidents that can cause serious injuries. Balance-building exercises can help improve your mobility as well as your peace of mind and sense of safety. When combined with strength, endurance and flexibility, balance exercises complete the package to improve your mobility overall.
A great resource for building balance through exercise is the ptprogress.com article, “12 Balance Exercises for Seniors.” Each exercise is described in writing with duration and frequency, has a brief accompanying video, and an explanation of why it is important. Once you get the hang of it and want more variations, YouTube has hundreds to choose from.
It’s amazing how easy it is for older adults to regain mobility with just a little effort and dedication. At Ganton’s Countryside, we get it! And we work hard to help our residents get and stay healthy, mobile, and independent. For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.