7 Exercise Tips for Older Adults with Limited Mobility

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Exercise is important regardless of your mobility status. Because the body releases endorphins – the “feel good” hormone – during exercising, people are in a better mood after completing a workout. As a matter-of-fact, studies have shown that an endorphin “high” is just as effective as a prescribed mild anti-depressant.

Regardless if you are injured, disabled, have certain illnesses or a weight problem that affects your mobility, there are exercises everyone can do. In particular, persons with limited mobility should concentrate on three types of exercising:

1 – Cardiovascular exercises raise the heart and respiratory rates, and build endurance. If your mobility issue is with your arms, you may still be able to walk, run, dance and do water aerobics in a shallow swimming pool. If confined to a wheelchair, you can use your arms to move your chair.

If you have access to a swimming pool with a chair lift, you can get in the pool and work your arms using the resistance of the water. Basically do exercises within the physical limitations of your body that will raise your heart rate.

2 – With strength training, you want to build muscle, tone up and improve your balance. If you can’t walk, focus on building upper body strength; if your upper body is disabled, work your lower body. By using resistance bands, free weights or weight machines, focus on strengthening your strongest areas physically, but not overlooking working your weakest area too within the limits of your mobility.

3 – Flexibility exercises work to improve joint range-of-motion, reduce pain and stiffness, and improve balance. One of the best forms of flexibility exercising is yoga. Find a class that specializes in working with limited mobility persons as they will tailor a program to you.  Because yoga is a whole body exercise program, even if you can’t do all of the poses (called asanas), you will be able to do some of them and still benefit greatly from the breathing and meditation part of a yoga program.

Of course, before starting any exercise program, talk with your doctor or physical therapist about:

• how long and often you should work out
• what type of exercises you should do
• what exercises you should avoid
• if you need to adjust your medication schedule when exercising

Just because you have limited mobility doesn’t mean you can’t still exercise; it just means you have to work within the limits of your ability.

Exercise Tips to Manage Lower Back Pain in Seniors

As an older person, you realize how important exercise is. But some seniors experience lower back pain which keeps them from exercising regularly. Because of this they tend to avoid all types of physical activity. They are rightly concerned about re-injuring their back, or experiencing heightened levels of pain. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can employ that allow you to exercise even if you are an older person with pain in your lower back.

4 – (If you have difficulty getting up from the floor, try this and any other applicable exercises on your couch or on your bed.) Begin on your hands and knees, then slowly push your left leg back as far as you can. Return to the starting position and switch sides. Perform 8 to 10 repetitions with each leg. Practice this hip extension 3 to 5 times a week. This simple exercise improves your range of motion without aggravating your lower back pain.

5 – Flexibility in your spine is extremely important as you age. However, twisting motions that promote flexibility are virtually impossible if you suffer from lower back pain. Try this instead. You are going to perform what is called a pelvic tilt. Lie on your back on the floor, with your feet flat and your legs forming an “A” shape. Push your pelvis up towards your chest and face, without lifting the middle of your back off of the floor. Hold this position until you feel a stretching sensation in your back.

6 – Stability is equally important in your back, for all adults and especially senior citizens. When your back is strong and stable, you actually experience less pain from any lower back condition that you have. Sit on an exercise ball and slowly raise your arm over your head. Alternate from left to right, performing at least 5 repetitions with each arm. This seated arm raise helps you develop stability in your back without aggravating your lower back pain.

7 – A strong core is the key to overall balance, strength, mobility and stability. This means working your abdominals, and it can be done without promoting back pain. A strong core means daily activities like getting up from your chair or your bed are pain-free and simple. With your feet flat on the floor, lie down on your back. Pull your abdominal muscles together, pulling your head and shoulders off of the floor. Repeat these curl ups 5 to 10 times, and only rise as far as you can without pain.

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