How do you stay fit when your mobility is lessened? Olympic Stairlifts share some of the most effective exercises for limited mobility enjoyed by their many families and carers around the UK.
Unfortunately reduced mobility will affect many of us during our lives. For some people, it comes as the result of illness, chronic pain or disability. For others, reduced mobility is just a symptom of the fact that we all now live longer than previous generations.
However that improved lifespan is relatively new but we know that a balanced diet, positive lifestyle behaviours and regular fitness will certainly help our overall physical and mental wellbeing.
Here are some of the most effective exercises for those with lessened mobility. We would love to hear your feedback on these exercises, feel free to get in touch with us via our Facebook page or Twitter!
Low Impact Aerobics – for legs
Aerobic style exercises like strength training and stretching can feel beyond your capabilities if your mobility is reduced. But low-impact aerobic movements are extremely good at preventing stiff joints and building muscles, as well as benefitting heart health and overall mood.
One of the most basic exercises in this genre is called a “Chair Stand.” It’s particularly helpful if your mobility issues stem from pain or damage in the legs. The idea is to slowly stand up and sit down again from a normal chair (with arms) in reps of 10. By focussing on the movement you can control certain muscle groups and use your hands to support you if needed.
Bicep Curls – for arms
This is a famous exercise from the weight lifting genre that we’re all used to seeing in popular culture. However it’s normally associated with very heavy weights and very big biceps! But that doesn’t mean the movement can’t be applied to those with more limited mobility.
Start with your elbows by your sides and your arm out (palm upwards) holding a small tin of food or a half-full bottle of water. Then slowly “curl” by keeping your elbow in place and pulling your hand up to your shoulder and lowering it back down again.
Ceiling Stretch – for backs
The simplest of movements can be really beneficial for the body if done in a controlled manner. Chair stretches are some of the easiest to do, because they can be completed while doing something else, such as watching TV. Clasping both hands together, stretch your arms up to the ceiling, pushing the palms outwards, and then slowly bend from the waist (keeping arms straight) and point the palms towards one edge of the room and then back to centre, before moving to the other edge.
These movements can be very effective for people who suffer with Rheumatoid Arthritis for example, because even the smallest movements, done regularly, are helpful. You can then watch your progress over time to try to move a little further each week.
Hand Stretch – for fingers
For many people, their biggest pain and mobility challenges actually come from the smallest parts of the body, like their hands. We don’t often think to “exercise” these areas and yet the finger joints and muscles can benefit from fitness just as much as anywhere else on our bodies.
A simple hand stretch involves spreading your fingers wides and then making a fist shape. The idea is to do this repeatedly in a stretching, squeezing, stretching pattern. Some people will use a foam shape to squeeze. This is where the old idea of the “stress ball” came from, because these movements release tension in the hands and arms while also reducing anxiety because of the comfort of the repetitive movement.
Three Way Stretch – for hips
Hip bones and joints are a common problem area for those whose mobility issues, often merely as a symptom of getting older. It’s a challenging part of the body to single out and exercise on it’s own, but there are some simple movements than can help you if you have weak muscles around the hips.
Standing facing a sink or worktop area (so you can hold on if needed) you slowly raise and lower one knee and then the other, as high as you can towards the hip area, as though in a slow motion march. Then, raise your leg out to the side, keeping the leg straight and your feet and toes in the same position as they were on the floor. Repeat on the other leg. The last of the three movements is a stretch of each leg out behind you as you stand straight. It need only be a few inches off the ground. These three movements will work the from hip, thighs/glutes and lower back muscles respectively.
Chair Boxing – for the heart
“Punching” thin air (with or without weights) is an easy exercise that can be done sitting in a chair, if standing is a problem. When repeated its what’s called a “cardio” movement which increases heart rate, gets the blood flowing and the body sweating, all of which are important for keeping our hearts healthy and strong.
The key to this exercise is to include as much speed as you can, but to go easy on joints by not fully extending the elbow as you punch each fist out in front of you. The jabbing motion should be repeated anywhere manageable between 10 to 30 reps. Then, if you’re able, try changing up the motion by jabbing towards the ceiling for a similar number of reps.
Yoga – for joints
While certain styles of the now-popular exercise trend are not ideal for reduced mobility (such as hot yoga or flow/Vinyasa yoga) the deep relaxation techniques taught in practices such as Nidra are accessible to most people of varying ages and abilities.
The focus on breathing and gentle stretching has proven benefits for maintaining, and even improving, mobility as well as promoting a healthy immune system. Regular practice of gentle yoga movements has been shown to ease pain for those who suffer from swollen joints in particular.
Water Aerobics – whole body workout
Water is a powerful aid in rehabilitation, physiotherapy and general exercise because it both supports and challenges our bodies. For those who find regular strength training difficult then exercising in water can be great because it provides the resistance to movement that works muscles and then, if you tire or hurt, simply relax and the water will support your body weight as you float.
While you don’t have to feel able for a full water aerobics class, there are simple exercises you can do in a pool that will give you an all-over workout. Just walking around the edges at as brisk a pace as you can manage is one option. You can also buy a buoyancy aid like a water belt, that will hold your weight a little off the pool floor, lessening further the pressure on your joints.