Mobility Exercises for the Elderly
Mobility exercises for the elderly need to be included in a well-rounded physical activity program. Exercises keep joints flexible and lubricated, improve independence and self-confidence, decrease falling risks, reduce pain and improve the capability of performing everyday activities such as opening jars, lifting items, bending over and walking. Check with your doctor first to receive guidance in developing an individualized exercise program, especially if you have been immobile for any length of time.
Mobility exercises done in water can make moving easier and less painful and provide a gentle workout, according to the Arthritis Foundation. This is especially important for mobility-impaired elderly individuals with joint pain or musculoskeletal ailments such as forms of arthritis or fibromyalgia. Water provides a natural buoyancy which helps support body weight and take pressure off of joints, thereby decreasing risks of falling. Exercising in warm water can increase blood circulation throughout your body by raising your body temperature and dilating your blood vessels. Do some water walking by 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, according to the Arthritis Foundation. Do this once. As you become stronger, increase your repetitions.
Chair exercises can improve mobility of wheelchair-bound or other mobility-impaired elderly individuals. They can also be used for warming up able bodies prior to more intense workouts. Do these exercises while sitting in chairs or by using the chair for balancing and stability purposes. Do an ankle and foot mobility exercise by sitting upright on the edge of a chair. Place both feet firmly on the floor and extend your left leg until the heel only is touching the floor. Gently move your left toes and foot toward your body, feeling the stretch on the backside of your leg. Slowly lean forward from your hips to increase the stretch. Hold this stretch for five seconds. Slowly return to the upright position, moving your left leg so your foot is firmly planted. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this five times. Do the exercise again with your right leg.
Being safe plays a crucial role in any successful exercise program. Remember to start out gradually and slowly increase your time and intensity levels. If new to exercising, start with five minutes to get your body used to moving around. Always wear comfortable clothing that offers unrestricted movements, including well-fitted shoes. Drinking plenty of water before, during and after working out will prevent dehydration, according to the National Institute of Health's Senior Health website. Be safe when exercising outdoors by staying aware of your surroundings that may cause harm including low-hanging branches, strangers, traffic hazards and uneven surfaces. When doing mobility exercises in warm water, remember to keep temperatures between 83 and 88 degrees F to prevent overheating.
As beneficial as mobility exercises can be for elderly individuals, use caution if you have certain health conditions, according to the National Institute on Aging. Be especially cautious if you have ailments affecting the heart such as palpitations, irregular or rapid heartbeats, undiagnosed sudden weight loss, shortness of breath, blood clots, hernia, pneumonia or other serious infections or joint swelling. Stop exercising immediately if you break out in a cold sweat or experience any feelings of nausea, dizziness or sudden pain anywhere in your body.
Crystal Welch has a 30-year writing history. Her more than 2,000 published works have been included in the health and fitness-related Wellness Directory, Earthdance Press and Higher Source. She is an award-winning writer who teaches whole foods cooking and has written a cookbook series. She operates an HON-code-certified health-related blog with more than 95,000 readers. Welch has a B.B.A. from Eastern Michigan University.