Regular exercise can do wonders for maintaining our mobility as we age. Try a combination of these simple stretching and balancing exercises – most of which you can do at home. If you suffer from joint pain or musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis that can make exercise painful, consider taking your workout to the local swimming pool. Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine or physical activity, particularly if you suffer from any medical conditions.
Regular stretching for the upper and lower body can do wonders for increasing and maintaining flexibility. If you can’t get along to a stretching class, try watching the videos at seniors fitness website eldergym.com, which will show you how to perform individual stretching movements safely in the comfort of your own home.
Upper Body Stretches
Improve your upper back, arm and neck mobility with upper body stretching routines. Choose 2-3 upper body stretching exercises to start with, performed 3 times per week to greatly improve flexibility of your arms, chest and upper back.
Some upper body stretches, held for 30 seconds, include:
• Neck rotation
• Shoulder rolls
• Neck side stretch
• Shoulder and upper back stretch
• Arm raises and hand stretch
Lower Body Stretches
Increase your lower body, hip, knee and ankle mobility with these essential leg stretches. Choose 2 or 3 lower body stretches to start with, performed at least 3 times per week to greatly improve the flexibility of your lower back, hips, knees and ankles.
Some lower body stretches, held for 30 seconds, include:
• Inner thigh stretch
• Calf stretch
• Hip side stretch
• Standing stretches
• Seated stretches
Exercises to maintain and improve balance
A strong sense of balance can help minimise the risk of nasty falls and maintain mobility as we age. There are a number of exercises you can do at home to help improve and maintain balance, including:
This exercise helps improve your circulation. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Gently rock backwards and forwards between your heels and toes. Repeat 10 times each way. Holding on to a support (e.g. a table or kitchen bench) can help with balance.
Standing upright, place your right heel on the floor directly in front of your left toe. Then do the same with your left heel. Make sure you keep looking forward at all times. If necessary, put your fingers against a wall for stability. Try to perform at least five steps. As you progress, move away from the wall.
Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent. Step sideways in a slow and controlled manner, moving one foot to the side first. Move the other to join it.
Standing hip exercise:
This exercise can help your loved one stay standing upright and walking. Hold on to a solid support for balance. Stand on one leg, then lift the other leg outwards to the side – away from the support. Return leg to your starting position. Repeat 10 times, then turn around and repeat with the opposite leg.
Start by standing facing the wall, with arms outstretched and your fingertips touching the wall. Lift your left leg, keep your hips level and keep a slight bend in the opposite leg. Gently place your foot back on the floor. Hold the lift for 5 to 10 seconds and perform three on each side.
If you suffer from joint pain or musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis or simply find stretching and exercising painful, try taking your routine to the local swimming pool.
Mobility exercises done in water can make moving easier:
Water based exercise is less painful and provides a gentle workout, as water provides a natural buoyancy which helps support body weight and take pressure off of joints.
Exercising in warm water can increase blood circulation throughout your body:
Raising your body temperature naturally dilates your blood vessels which improves circulation.
Start with some water walking:
Try getting into waist-deep or chest-deep water, depending upon your current physical fitness level. The deeper water offers a more intense workout. Start walking around the pool's perimeter or across the pool's width. Do this once. As you become stronger, increase your repetitions.
Mobility is so crucial for keeping your independence, especially as we age. It will really help to improve and maintain your mobility if you incorporate these exercises and stretches into your daily fitness regime. We recently published an article that runs you through the best options for mobility aids, which you can read here.
At Freedom Aged Care your freedom is very important to us and we are big advocates of helping you to stay as independent as possible, while providing you with support when you need it. We want you to enjoy and live your life to the fullest.