Whether you’ve recently experienced a fall, pulled a muscle in your leg, or broken a hip, or if your loved one is recovering from a stroke where the strength of one side of his/her body has now been compromised, the number one thing to do to improve mobility is: keep the body moving! While it may be a challenge, frustrating, or even painful at first, the only way to stop atrophy, not lose muscle mass, and keep the body (or a limb) strong is through purposeful and regular movement. Here are some tips on how to keep moving:
Move in bed.
Whether you’re enjoying a morning game show on TV or the birds outside your window while you’re in bed, you can still move. With the guidance of your caregiver and your physical therapist, you can do leg lifts, knee bends, and leg extensions ~ all while in bed.
Move while sitting.
Just because you may need the help of a wheelchair or find that you are sitting most of the day until you regain the strength in your legs doesn’t mean you can’t still exercise. You can do all sorts of leg exercises (even with some minimal ankle weights if your physical therapist agrees) while waiting for your turn to bowl in Wii, watching a sports game, or reading the paper. From toe movements and ankle exercises to knee bends, leg extensions, and even reaching forward and sideways to strengthen your core, there are lots of movements you can do from a chair.
Move with a cane.
Once you’re able to stand and take small steps, use a cane. Choosing a freestanding-designed cane will not only provide more stability for you because of its unique pivoting base, but will also make it easier for you to reach for things, open cupboards, and stand at a sink with your cane still upright at your side. According to WebMD, using a cane can actually “reduce the stress on a painful joint or limb. Using a walking aid can help you be more safe and independent in your daily activities.”
Move with others.
Another way to improve mobility is by participating in an age-specific group fitness program offered at your local community center. According to the International Council on Active Aging, “research reinforces that strong social engagement contributes to healthy aging.” There you will find plenty of people working toward a variety of mobility goals.
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