Many older adults love to spend time gardening, bonding with their loved ones and taking leisurely evening walks. Gardening, in particular, is therapeutic and can encourage the release of endorphins, the hormones that make people feel satisfied and happy.
However, no matter how fulfilling and enjoyable these activities are, some might find them challenging because of mobility issues and how physically exerting these tasks may be.
Thankfully, other fun activities involve less physical exertion that can be enjoyed by all groups, regardless of their mobility. You can refer to this helpful article by Seasons Retirement Communities for more information on the types of exercises to consider implementing. Make sure to always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise regime.
This article also discusses six mobility exercises for seniors to help increase their range of motion. Remember, it’s important to always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regime or routine. But first, let’s highlight what may cause immobility among older adults.
Causes of immobility among older adults
According to a 2016 study, mobility loss is common among older people who may have a variety of impairments affecting their muscles, joints, and physiological and nervous systems.
Some known causes of immobility are:
Obesity is a commonly seen cause of immobility among older persons. It’s a little easier to gain weight as one grows older since one’s physical activities and metabolism may reduce over time.
Obese persons may struggle with mobility as their body weight exerts more pressure than usual on their joints. We recommend healthy diets and occasional fasts to reduce the chances of this happening.
Arthritis is the apparent swelling and tenderness of one or more joints which may result from repeated stress on the joints, among other causes. It usually involves joint inflammation and may cause pain during movements. So people who struggle with arthritis may experience some discomfort when moving.
Massages and a few medication recommendations from licensed professionals can help prevent the situation from worsening.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition involving a loss in bone density, leading to bone brittleness and fragility. It may come with pain, limiting the affected’s movement. One can prevent this by consuming calcium- and vitamin-D-rich meals.
6 mobility exercises for older persons to increase range of motion
Exercising regularly is one of the cheapest and most effective ways of keeping fit among young and older adults. However, some exercises may harm some people depending on underlying health conditions and body peculiarities.
People with mobility issues aren’t encouraged to take on exercises that exert so much pressure on their joints. These exercises are the most effective exercises for seniors with limited mobility. Remember, checking in with a doctor or health professional is always important to ensure there are no underlying health challenges before following them.
- Cat-Cow Pose
Cat Cow Pose is a simple but effective mobility exercise that stretches the spine. Here’s how to do the cat-cow pose:
- Assume a table pose with palms facing down and knees firmly planted on the floor. While inhaling, lift the head, push the chest forward, and arch your back towards the floor. Relax the shoulders and ensure they’re not touching your ears while looking straight ahead.
- Now, exhale gently and assume the cat pose by gently arching upwards and bringing your head down.
- Relax in each position for a few seconds (15–30), then repeat each pose up to three times.
- Primarily focus on breathing rather than how much time is spent in each position.
- Side hip raise
The side hip raise is one of several practical mobility exercises for seniors that focuses on hip stabilization and strengthens the oblique, which moves the spine and stabilizes the lower back and pelvis.
Here’s how to do the side hip raise:
- Lay your left side on the mat. One could use a pillow or cloth for proper cushioning.
- Stabilize your weight with your forearm placed on the floor.
- Slowly lift your right leg, and bring it down with the left. Be sure to do this slowly, and see how many seconds the leg can be suspended in the air before bringing it back down.
- Continue in this position five times, flip over until you’re lying on your right side and repeat the exercise.
- Low back rotation stretch
Another one of the six mobility exercises for older adults is the low back rotation stretch.
This exercise stretches your lower back and your spine in particular. Here’s how to do a low back rotation stretch:
- Grab a chair and sit upright with your feet flat on the floor.
- Rotate your shoulders to your left side by twisting your upper body (use your leg or the chair for a deeper stretch).
- Hold your position for about 30 seconds.
- Unwind to your starting position
- Repeat and alternate between your right and left sides.
- Doorway pec stretch
This exercise stretches the pectoral muscles for flexibility and better mobility. Here’s how to do a doorway pec stretch:
- Stand in an open doorway and lift your hands above your head. Place your hands on the doorway and create a 90-degree angle with your hands by bending your elbows appropriately.
- Step forward with one foot and push your torso in front. You’ll feel your shoulders stretching. Maintain a straight posture while slowly exhaling through your mouth.
- Remain in the position for 30 seconds, then step back to relax.
- Repeat three times.
- Knee-to-chest stretch
To do a knee-to-chest stretch, you must:
- Lie down on a mat with your face up and lift your knees to the point where they touch your chest (or close).
- Wrap your arms around your knees while they remain bent.
- Pull your chin and your knees to your chest.
- Remain in this position for 20 seconds.
- Slowly unfold your knees and chin until your back is flat on the mat and your legs are elevated and stretched.
- Repeat the exercise.
As with other senior mobility exercises, you need to coordinate your breathing while doing this workout.
- Standing hip abductors
- Stand straight with your back stretched and your shoulders apart.
- Ensure your knees are straight.
- Move one leg upwards and to the side, while keeping it straight. The other should remain firmly planted on the ground. Do this ten times.
- Return your leg to the startup position.
- Repeat with the other leg.
Immobility is a common issue among people with reduced metabolism and tends to become more prevalent as people get older. Exercising, however, can be a great way to preserve the body’s range of movements while also getting the body back in good shape. We’ve recommended some of the best mobility exercises for people who already experience some movement limitations. But remember that as effective as these mobility exercises for seniors are, it’s always important to check in with a doctor or health professional to ensure there are no underlying health challenges before following them.