Updated: Jun 29
When you think about improving your health, you probably focus on issues like diet and exercise. While these issues matter, they aren't the only aspects you should be considering. Mobility is another essential component of overall wellness. ‘Mobility’ refers to a person's ability to move purposefully. Mobility becomes increasingly important with age, impacting one’s ability to remain independent.
Recognize the benefits of improved mobility
Paying attention to your mobility can help you stay fit as you get older, making it easier to remain self-sufficient and take care of yourself. For example, if you have reduced mobility, you may struggle with basic tasks, such as going to the store or preparing your own meals. However, mobility matters while you're young too. Good mobility can help prevent everyday aches and pains, ensuring that you feel your best. This becomes especially important if you lead a largely sedentary lifestyle—for example, you work a desk job.
Start by assessing your baseline
If you want to improve your mobility, the first thing to do is to figure out your starting point. If you're relatively young and don't struggle with everyday tasks like standing up from a couch or getting out of bed in the morning, you might assume mobility isn't an issue for you. Think again. There may be room for improvement. Free Range American describes different types of mobility testing you can try like active straight leg raises, standing toe touches, and shoulder mobility assessments. Try these exercises out and note the ones you struggle with.
Try exercises designed to improve mobility
Once you've figured out where your mobility strengths and weaknesses lie, you'll know what areas you need to improve in. EveryDay Health has a list of mobility exercises worth exploring, such as moving from a child's pose into downward-facing dog. Create a training plan based on appropriate exercises. If you aren't sure how to go about this, a professional assessment may be in order. For example, a therapist trained in the Functional Movement Screen can provide both assessment and personalized exercises. Most sports medicine providers, such as Dr. Michael Day of All Day Sports MD, have a network of therapists that they can readily refer you to. With professional support, you'll develop a personalized plan designed to enhance your mobility.
Look for ways to get moving in your day-to-day life
Targeted mobility exercises are a great starting point. However, you also want to ensure you're getting consistent physical activity. Develop an exercise plan that you enjoy and feel confident sticking to. If you don't have a lot of time to work out, find ways to get your blood pumping in everyday life. For example, you might take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walking instead of driving is another way to get moving. If your neighborhood isn't safe for walking, scope out areas with a high walk score. Target spots with a score of 70 or more.
Explore technology to enhance your mobility
There are many tech tools that can help you in your mobility journey. You might get a step counter like a Fitbit to help track your daily movement, for example. There are also apps that can help. Fitness Drum outlines apps and programs specifically designed to enhance the range of motion and mobility, such as Pliability, Mobility Manual, and StretchIt. For example, Pliability gives you daily mobility routines and even includes a baseline mobility test. These apps can help hold you accountable and keep you on track.
Good mobility can help you live a longer, healthier, and more self-sufficient life. Investing in your mobility in your younger years can reap rewards as you get older. By following best practices like creating a mobility plan and using technology, you can minimize the risk of aches and pains and improve overall wellness.
Read more from Andrea at www.eldersday.org.