Maintaining and improving mobility into older age
Thursday, February 20th, 2020 | Blog
For many of us, mobility is just something we have. The ability to get out of bed, walk down the stairs and even take the dog for a walk are just inherent parts of our day-to-day routine and many of us pay little thought to the concept of not being able to move without limitation. Unfortunately, mobility is not infinite, and as we age, we discover that our bodies may not be as capable as they once were.
We can’t stop the passage of time, but there are steps we can all take to not only limit the loss of our mobility but also to improve as we grow older. This list is in no way a replacement for a visit to your doctor, so if you are having any health issues definitely book an appointment with your GP.
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. Regular exercise throughout life can make a huge difference to your mobility. Muscles need to be used and worked in order to gain strength, and exercise is the best way to do this. Something as small as a short walk each day can help, although you will certainly see better results from something slightly more strenuous, like yoga and aerobics.
Diet plays a much more prominent role in our ability to move than many of us realise. Not only do certain foods encourage bone and muscle growth, but a healthy diet can reduce the chances of developing illnesses which affect mobility later in life. A study conducted in 2011 (linked below) found that a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits and root vegetables were found to reduce the levels of inflammatory markers which lead to the loss of muscle strength.
A diet change can have a positive effect at any point in life. So if you are experiencing a loss of mobility or you are just worried about it, changing your diet might have the positive effect you are looking for.
As we age, it’s understandable that family members might try to be more supportive by offering to help around the house or take care of the weekly shopping. This can unfortunately have a negative effect, as it’s been proven that regular moderate activity can help maintain mobility in older adults.
A randomised trial conducted in 2016 found that regular moderate physical activity for those living with a major mobility disability improved mobility. This shows that a structured program of activity can actively help some individuals reclaim their mobility, which is why staying active for as long as possible in later life can lead to greater mobility and independence.
Go for a swim
Swimming is often regarded as one of the best forms of physical exercise. Unlike jogging or other activities, swimming does not affect the body in a negative way. Swimmers also benefit from a full-body workout, because you have to utilise a number of muscles in order to swim and stay afloat.
Local swimming centres across the country regularly host sessions for people of all ages, meaning you can go swim with people close to your age group if that’s something you may feel conscious about. It’s also an excellent way to make new friends.
What makes yoga great is that it is open to all age groups and with different routines catering to various experience and mobility levels, there’s no reason not to get involved. Gentle yoga is the perfect entry point for someone with limited and wavering mobility as the program is designed to provide a great workout without overly taxing those taking part.
There are Yoga classes across the UK and a lot which specifically cater to the elderly. If you’re not sure about attending a class, there are plenty of free lessons online for you to take part in, all you need is a yoga mat and some suitable clothing.
As with any new exercise, always remember to contact your local GP if you have any underlying health conditions.
Mobility is key to retaining independence in later life, so the sooner we are proactive in maintaining and improving it, the better off we will be. Do you have any tips or methods for retaining mobility?