Going for an afternoon walk with grandchildren, maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping up with housekeeping, using retirement to travel, or going to community events - these are all examples of what an active adult’s life might look like as they age.
However, for most aging adults, this is not the reality. Nearly 40% of people ages 65 and older have at least one disability, making it difficult for them to live an active or independent lifestyle.
Mobility challenges may look like difficulty walking, getting out of chairs, or staying balanced, and most challenges to staying active as you get older are caused by weakened muscles, joint inflammation, and chronic disease.
Why is Improving Mobility Important
Staying active and preventing mobility-impairing illness is one of the best ways to maintain physical health and overall emotional well-being at every stage in life, but especially as you age. Older adults who exercise regularly experience lower rates of diabetes, have lower blood pressure, are less likely to develop heart disease, and have better cognitive function.
The four main types of exercise include strength, balance, flexibility, and endurance. Consistently including a variety of each type is ideal for optimal health. We compiled a guide outlining how to improve mobility at an old age below.
Please consult a health professional before starting any physical fitness routine. Always take time to warm up and cool down before and after exercising, stay hydrated, and remember to start slow and build your way up while listening to your body. Exercises that require balance and coordination should always be done with support in the beginning, such as a chair or countertop.
Strength training, also known as resistance training, builds muscle through contraction against an outside force of resistance. Not only does this form of movement help you get stronger, but it also improves balance and stability, protects your joints, and helps prevent injury.
Resistance exercises may include free weights, ankle weights, resistance bands, body weight, or gym equipment depending on your fitness level. Examples of strength training exercises for older adults include the following:
• Calf raises
• Chair squats
• Shoulder presses
• Wall push-ups
• Bicep curls
Balance and Coordination Practice
Improving balance and coordination is important for faster reaction times, stronger bones, and for preventing falls, the leading cause of injury for U.S. adults over age 65. Balance is needed to safely perform many activities of daily living, and greatly contributes to your overall quality of life. Examples include:
- Tai Chi
- Chair yoga
- Foot taps on a stair
- Standing marches
- “Tightrope” walking on the floor
- Single-leg stands
It’s common for muscles to become less elastic over time. Increasing flexibility, or the ability of your muscles and tendons to lengthen and stretch, by implementing a stretching routine into your exercise regimen will increase your range of motion, prevent injury, and improve circulation.
Strive to do the following stretches or similar ones for at least 10 minutes two days a week, holding each stretch for 30 seconds and breathing deeply.
- Seated knee-to-chest
- Seated hamstring stretch
- Standing quadriceps stretch
- Overhead side stretch
- Cross-body shoulder stretch
Endurance training, also known as aerobic exercise, is an essential part of a well-balanced movement routine and includes any activity that elevates heart rate and increases oxygen intake. Strive for 35 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity five days per week of exercises similar to the following:
- Brisk walking or jogging
- Climbing stairs
- Water aerobics
HomeSpark Can Help
At HomeSpark, we know that independence and the ability to age comfortably at home are important for many aging adults and their families. That’s why our mission is to ensure that they have the support they need to do so safely.
To learn more about our individualized, non-medical, in-home care services for aging adults, contact us today.