As we age, the accumulated wear and tear on our bodies can take its toll. We have an increasing amount of muscle aches and joint pain, which dramatically our balance and mobility and lessens the amount of physical activity we engage in. And it worsens as time marches on.
For seniors, this presents a significant problem. Through inactivity, balance and mobility both suffer. Telltale signs of balance and mobility problems are needing to hold on to furniture when getting up from a chair, shuffling or dragging their feet as they walk, and have trouble turning as they pivot while walking.
Inactivity for seniors creates a vicious cycle. They do less activity as they age, causing reduced fitness. The reduced fitness level makes it harder to be active, which results in their fitness level declining more. Muscles then begin to atrophy, and balance and mobility suffer.
Fortunately, there are preventive and proactive measures that can be taken to maintain and improve balance and mobility for seniors. As it is for just about everyone, exercise is the best medicine.
Because of joint problems, increased physical activity for seniors needs to be of the low-impact variety, meaning there is little-to-no hard impact with the ground. Here are four low-impact exercises seniors can enjoy, which will aid not only their balance and mobility but their overall health as well.
Tai chi is a slow, gentle workout that can be particularly effective in building balance and preventing falls. It is often described as “meditation in motion” because it involves both physical and mental exercise. In addition to aiding with balance, it improves strength, flexibility, and coordination.
Tai Chi is safe and adaptable for seniors of all fitness levels, including those with chronic conditions, such as chronic pain, lung disease, and heart failure. It can be done with or without chair support.
Water aerobics and swimming are both excellent low-impact activities to improve balance and mobility. Moving in water supports joints and provides resistance to the muscles. This strengthens the muscles, which aids with balance and mobility. And a side benefit – it’s also a great cardio workout.
Many doctors recommend water-based exercise as a great low-impact workout, and many refer to it as “aqua-size.” It helps seniors with arthritis or that are recovering from an injury.
One final benefit of water aerobics is weight reduction. Many physical therapists cite walking in water as one of the best exercises for seniors wishing to lose weight.
Yoga is a great low-impact exercise for building a strong core, which is essential for proper balance. In addition, it can reduce serious injury from falls or other mishaps.
Strength and flexibility are not necessary to start enjoying yoga. And there are many types of yoga, such as gentle forms like restorative yoga and more challenging forms like vinyasa yoga.
Yoga can also be done while sitting in a chair, and It’s equally effective as if you’re not. Two 45-minute sessions of chair yoga every week can also lessen the pain for seniors with osteoarthritis.
Walking is first on just about every doctor’s list of low-impact exercises for balance and mobility. It provides the right amount of impact to keep bones strong, but not too much to result in injury.
Walking can be done outdoors, such as in a neighborhood or on a local school track, or indoors at the mall or on a treadmill. Walking is a weight-bearing activity, meaning the body must support its weight against gravity. This can help slow mineral loss in the bones.
Walking improves both balance and mobility and can be of short duration when getting started. Just 5-minutes of walking to begin with is fine, and as strength improves longer walks can be enjoyed.
These four low-impact exercises may be just the thing to help improve balance and mobility for the senior in your life. They don’t require an investment in any type of specialized equipment, are easy on the bones and joints, and seniors love to participate in them.
Schedule Your Free Care Consultation
When you or your loved one needs some extra support contact Family Services of Central Massachusetts (FSCM). While serving as an extended family in the home, our compassionate caregivers can assist your senior with daily needs like personal care, medication pickups, light housekeeping, laundry, grocery shopping and transportation.
The focus of our family trusted home care services is helping independent seniors age comfortably in place with dignity and peace of mind. A Care Consult is the initial conversation where we get to understand your specific needs so we are in the best position to help. Based on that conversation, we’ll develop a personalized Care Plan that’s tailored to meet your needs. To learn more about FSCM now, or to schedule a FREE in-home consultation for a senior in the Worcester County, MA, area today, please call us today at 508-756-4646 or visit us online: www.fscm.org.