Tuesday, 18 September 2018 08:00

Gentle at-home exercises for the elderly to increase mobility

With advancing age comes a myriad of health problems for many seniors, this is just a fact of life. Along with this, seniors may also begin to experience joint pain, muscle stiffness and a lack of mobility due to a number of conditions, including arthritis.

To add to this, the onset of diseases such as osteoporosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s or dementia increase the likeliness of cognition issues, dizziness and weakness as side-effects of chronic medications.

All of these conditions can lead to a heightened risk of trips, falls and general instability in seniors. This is why gentle, low-impact mobility exercises are an excellent way to keep balance, flexibility and strength in check to increase mobility.

Practise the following exercises in the comfort of your own home, on a daily basis. Just keep in mind that another person, a sturdy chair or handrail should be used for support if needed.

1. The Tightrope Walk

For this exercise, you will need a few metres of clear, unobstructed space. Stand with your arms held up, straight out from your sides, facing parallel to the floor. Keeping your arms up at your side, walk in a straight line, pausing every two steps to lift your leg off the ground, and balancing for 1-2 seconds at a time. Slowly lower your leg back to the ground, and repeat.

Take 15-20 steps for the entire exercise, remembering to keep your head up and eyes fixed on an object in front of you. Use a spotter, someone to walk beside you, if needs be.

2. Rock the Boat

Place your feet hip-width apart and make sure that each foot is properly pressed into the ground for stability, evenly distributing your weight across both legs. Keep your shoulders back and head lifted, with your eyesight focused on an object in front of you. Now, slowly transfer your weight onto one leg and lift the other off the ground, holding it in the air for a maximum of 30 seconds. Lower your leg and repeat on the other side.

Complete each repetition 5 times on each side, building up to more as strength and balance improves.

3. The Heel-Toe Shuffle

While this exercise is more a walk than a shuffle, you will need to place one foot directly in front of the other to improve flexibility. Aim to place the heel of your front foot as close to the toes of your back foot as possible. If you can’t manage this, just try to get your two feet as close to each other as you can.

Take 15-20 steps this way while keeping your shoulders back, head up and eyesight fixed on an object in front of you.

4. The Flamingo Stand

For this simple exercise, you’ll basically be mimicking the stance of a flamingo. Stand with both feet firmly placed on the ground, hip-width apart. Use the back of a chair for balance if needs be, then slowly raise one leg off the ground, bent at a 90-degree angle, and hold it there for a few seconds. Then repeat this process on the other leg. You may find this exercise easier on one side than the other, but this is 100% normal. Keep your shoulders back, head up and eyesight focused on an object in front of you.

Growing older doesn’t always have to be uncomfortable- taking a few minutes out of your day to focus on your strength, mobility and flexibility is just as important as any doctor’s check-up!

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