Staying in shape helps everyone, including people with mobility issues, reap important physical and mental benefits. It can help you build strength and stamina, prevent loss of bone mass, improve your balance and heart health, and relieve stress. Staying in shape also helps reduce depression, prevent memory loss, and may even slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
The following five exercises are easy ways to stay in shape, even if you have mobility issues:
1. Side bends – to improve your core
Your core, which includes your stomach, back, hips, and pelvis, affects almost everything you do. A strong core can improve posture and balance. It also helps prevent back pain and makes everyday tasks – from tying your shoes to vacuuming – easier.
Exercises can help strengthen your core in just a few minutes a day. Many, including side bends, are appropriate for people with mobility issues. To perform side bends, sit in a chair and put your feet flat on the floor. Put one hand behind your head, and stretch the other one out to one side. Lean over to the side, stretching toward the floor. Contract your oblique muscles, and go back to the starting position. For optimal results, keep your chest from falling forward. Repeat five times on each side.
2. Chair or toe stands – to improve your balance
Falls are a major cause of hospital visits for seniors, with one out of three adults falling in any given year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Exercises such as the chair stand can help you enhance your balance. To perform this exercise, sit in an armless chair. Extend your arms parallel to the ground and stand up if you can without using your hands. Or try the toe stand by standing behind the chair, holding it, and slowly raising up on your tiptoes. Hold this position and slowly lower your heels back down. Try to do two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions at a time.
3. Resistance bands – to work your muscles
Strengthening your muscles can help improve your balance and posture and prevent decline in muscle strength. Exercises utilizing resistance bands – which are like giant rubber bands – can be an easy and inexpensive way to give your muscles a good workout. They can be used to help target certain areas including your arms, legs, and upper body, as well as your feet and toes.
To strengthen the muscles in your feet, sit in a chair and loop one end of the band around your right foot and hold the other end. Extend your right leg, and point and flex your right foot while keeping your left foot on the floor. Try this for five or 10 reps, and repeat with your left foot.
4. Flutter kicks – to exercise your heart
Increasing your heart rate, even for just a few minutes at a time, helps your cardiovascular health. Water exercises can give you all of the advantages of a cardiovascular workout in a very low-impact way that’s easy on your knees and other joints. Many pools are accessible to exercisers with mobility issues.
One effective water exercise is the flutter kick. This can be performed by holding onto a kickboard or the side of the pool and kicking your legs.
5. Gentle yoga – to improve your flexibility
Improving your flexibility will ensure that you can maintain a good range of motion as you age. A more limited range of motion can make you more likely to suffer an injury and have difficulty doing everyday tasks.
You may think of yoga as being only for people who can twist their bodies into pretzel-like shapes, but that’s a misconception. Some yoga poses are excellent for almost every age and mobility level. Even if you can’t do a particular pose, there’s often a modified version that you’ll be capable of executing.
Keeping in the best possible shape can help ensure that you stay as healthy as possible, even if you have mobility issues. With any change in activity, consult your doctor first to make sure what you’re planning fits your unique needs and capabilities.
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