Staying Fit With Reduced Mobility: Helpful Tips to Improve Your Fitness and Wellbeing
There are plenty of reports online, singing the virtues of aerobic exercise, running and pilates if you’re over 50. This is, of course, great if you’ve still got full mobility. But if for any reason you have reduced mobility or struggle to move around so freely, these types of exercise are probably off-limits to you.
This can leave you feeling alienated; wanting to stay fit and healthy but unable to. However, don’t panic. There are plenty of ways you can maintain good levels of health and fitness, whatever your range of movement or natural ability.
The Importance of Staying Fit
There are many reasons why it’s worth focusing on staying fit. It improves muscle tone and stamina, and can help to reduce joint pain and stiffness. Many reports suggest that regular exercise can also lengthen your life and improve your mood, alleviating the symptoms of depression.
According to the NHS, if you’re over 65, you should be aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, plus muscle strengthening activities at least twice a week.
Here are a few ways you can keep fit, even if you’re in a wheelchair or unable to move around freely.
Great Ways to Stay Fit if You Have Reduced Mobility
- Engage in more gentle activities. If you don’t relish the prospect of attempting to take on an aerobics class or energetic run, try a gentler activity, such as yoga or Tai Chi. Fitness expert Ben Coomber says: ‘Yoga and Tai Chi can be very helpful for older people, as they help to increase flexibility and improve balance and coordination, reducing the risk of falls.’ Even if you’re in a wheelchair, you can still do upper-body stretching and yogic breathing to work on your core muscles.
- Strength training. Invest in a set of weights, and use them for a workout. If you’re in a wheelchair, you’ll be able to focus on your upper body strength; whereas if you have a shoulder or arm injury, you can focus solely on your abdominal muscles or legs.
- Swimming and aqua aerobics. Any form of exercise in the water is very well suited for those with reduced mobility, as the water naturally supports the body, reducing impact upon the joints and muscles. Aqua jogging is also a very effective way of staying fit.
- Never underestimate how beneficial a brisk walk can be. If you’re unable to walk very far, just aim to walk frequently, but for short periods of time; for example, two short walks per day. This will help to keep your muscles active and toned, and improve overall fitness.
Always remember to stay hydrated whenever exercising, and make sure you don’t push yourself too hard. It’s more effective to build up slowly than it is to over-do it and injure yourself! Many people benefit from keeping an exercise diary, which helps to document just how much exercise you’re doing each week. It can act as powerful motivation when you can see how you’ve improved over time.