Exercise for people with mobility issues

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Physical activity is vital to over­all health. The World Health Orga­nization says limiting time spent being idle and taking advantage of opportunities to get moving — even if it’s just a little bit of exer­cise — can go a long way toward improving overall health.

In November 2020, the WHO released new exercise guidelines for people of all ages. Adults should get between 150 and 300 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, and that includes older adults and those with chronic conditions or dis­abilities.

Individuals with limited mo­bility due to age or preexisting medical conditions may wonder how they can meet the guidelines for exercise. Those with chronic pain or illness sometimes find that exercising for more than a few minutes can be challenging. Even brief periods of exercise can pay dividends, and there are vari­ous approaches people can take to work around mobility and other issues.

Just because you are seated doesn’t mean you can’t get a work­out in. Seated chair exercises can work various muscle groups. Seat­ed arm rows, tummy twists, over­head arm raises, hand squeezes with a tennis ball, inner thigh squeezes, leg lifts and extensions, and many other exercises can be customized to be performed in a chair.

Exercising in the water can as­sist with movement and reduce strain on the body. The Arthri­tis Foundation says the water’s buoyancy supports body weight, which minimizes stress on joints and can alleviate pain. Water pro­vides gentle resistance as well — up to 12 times the resistance of air. That means it’s possible to build strength and muscle even just walking or swimming around a pool.

Resistance bands are like giant rubber bands that can be used to build up strength and flexibil­ity. Resistance bands are effec­tive, low-cost gear that can offer high-impact results for building muscle, staying fit and increasing mobility. Resistance bands can be used in lieu of hand weights for many exercises and be ideal for those who find barbells and dumbbells are challenging to ma­neuver.

Elder Gym®, a fitness from home service for seniors, sug­gests exercises like Tai Chi and yoga for those with limited mo­bility. These exercises integrate awareness of body movement with the exercise through coor­dinated breathing. The exercises encourage people to focus on slow, fluid movements and deep stretching.

Seniors and others with lim­ited mobility are advised to first discuss fitness regimens with a physician to get a green light to proceed. Then exercise regimens can be started gradually and al­tered to become more vigorous as the body acclimates to exercise. Increase duration and frequency as strength and endurance builds.

Exercise for people with mobility issues

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