Fitness Tips for Seniors with Limited Mobility
The importance of regular exercise and physical activity is no secret. In fact, it is one of the best things you can do for your body. According to the CDC, it promotes weight management, brain health, strengthens bones and muscles, can reduce the risk of disease and improve your ability to do everyday activities.
For seniors, it can be challenging to find an exercise routine that works best for their lifestyle or limitations they may face. It is still possible for seniors to find a routine at any age to begin enjoying the many benefits that come with regular physical activity. Not sure where to start?
At any age, it can be tempting to jump back into an exercise that you were previously able to complete with ease. Trying new exercises can be exciting, but to much excitement may lead to injury or overexertion.
Start by consulting a physician, physical therapist, or other medical professional who may be able to assist in your new exercise regimen. They may be able to give you exercises that you can do at home with a caregiver’s assistance. Allowing your body to adjust to movement is key in being consistent.
In addition to easing into physical activity, it’s important to remain consistent. This might include setting a clear and realistic plan for your exercise goals. Incorporating some form of movement everyday can help make exercise into a habit and part of your everyday life. Studies show that establishing exercise as a habit can play a key role in maintaining a fitness routine.
Warm Up, Cool Down, & Stay Hydrated
Warmups and cool downs can be especially important when easing into a new routine. Warmups may help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury, while cool downs allow for a gradual recovery of heart rate and blood pressure. These activities may include similar movements, such as stretching, light exercise, and short time frames. Giving your body time to prepare and recover from exercise can be key in reducing your risk of injury.
Making sure you stay hydrated before, during and after exercise is expected, but can easily be forgotten. Dehydration can make your workout more difficult and even cause you to become more dehydrated. Setting reminders to hydrate can be helpful to avoid the negative effects of dehydration.
Exercises to Try
The idea of trying new exercises may seem exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. While it is always best to consult a professional, it may also be beneficial to go into a consultation with prior knowledge of excises that may interest you. Below are a few examples of exercises that may be beneficial for seniors with limited mobility.
Chair Exercises/Yoga – There are many exercises that can be done from a seated position. Some of which may be more focused on upper body and core strength. If you are able, leg lifts while sitting can be a great exercise for mobility and strength while activating your core. There are also many variations for yoga poses while in a chair that are low impact on the joints, improve balance, flexibility, and more.
Range of Motion – Range of motion refers to your ability to move or stretch a part of your body, such as a joint or a muscle and how far. As you age, you experience muscle loss which can contribute to a decrease in range of motion. Exercises to increase your range of motion can include side stretches, seated abdominal presses, semi-sits and more.
Walking – Walking can be a great way to ease into exercise. Although it may seem like an obvious choice, it’s important to be mindful of the value in walking. Some studies have even found that a decline in walking speed can be an indicator of cognitive decline.
Water Exercises – Exercise for older adults can increase the risk of falls. While you should always be cautious of your environment and its potential risks, water exercises can eliminate this risk as the water supports the body. Exercises like water aerobics can be great for improving stability and relieving joint pain.
Listen to Your Body
Once you have made the commitment to lead an active lifestyle, it is key to make sure you are listening to your body. It is perfectly normal to find some days easier than others or to lose motivation. Take time to rest when you feel tired and understand that adequate rest is just as important as physical activity.
Speaking with your physician and other medical professionals is always advised as they may be able to help you find which exercises work best for your body. Including your caregiver may be helpful and can reduce the overwhelm that may come with learning so much new information. Your caregiver may even be able to help you with daily exercises so that you are able to stay on track to reach your goals.