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Balance is something to work at

A good proportion of older people find their mobility decreases with age. Their movements become slower and some can, eventually, find themselves completely housebound.

Muscles in the body, if they’re not used, begin to waste away; the fibres of the muscles shrink and contract. Using them after a period of inactivity can feel uncomfortable, which can further put you off moving about at all.

Two gymnasts practicing a complicated balancing position.

This then turns into a vicious cycle…if will hurt to stand up and move around, which may make you not want to even try. However, if you don’t get up and move around at all, your body will of course feel a shock when you do, as your muscles won’t know what to do.

Balance can be a big issue for older people. If they suffer a fall, they may feel apprehensive about ever getting out of their chair or bed. This can lead them to adapting their lives around inactivity, all because they fear falling again.

Unfortunately, the message here is: use it or lose it.

The best advice we can give to elderly patients is to force yourself to move when your body probably wants you to do the opposite. Even if you can only do a little exercise or movements from your chair, persevere, and it will become easier and easier to lift your legs and arms or get up from your chair the more you practice.

We recently spotted a local self-defence company running a special class for elderly people. The company designed the exercises and demonstrations to suit the capabilities of this audience and concentrated on working the attendees’ core muscles and enabling them to feel more confident about their balance. By the end of that first day, practically all of the men and women in the class said they would feel more confident about going out of their house.

Yoga and many martial arts are particularly good for core strength and balance, and whilst some of the traditional poses may initially be out of reach for the elderly or beginners, there will still be exercises perfectly suited to your age and/or ability. There’s a reason why chair exercise sessions are fundamental in care homes—this is because sitting for too long can cause more harm than good. It’s much better for your health in your later years to try doing any exercise you’re able to, even if this is simply shuffling from one room to another in the beginning.

Two people practicing balance in a yoga session

If your feet hurt when you’re on them, there are a range of insoles and inserts available on the market that should help to alleviate discomfort and provide support when you stand/move.

Moving around when older not only helps your muscles remain pliant, it’s also good for your circulation and blood pressure. Of course, taking care of your feet is paramount to your mobility; if you can no longer reach to cut your toenails, for example, or if you have a lot of hard skin on your heels, contact us at Treat Your Feet for assistance.

Wherever you begin with exercising in your older years, it doesn’t matter—the more you practice what your body can cope with, it will get easier, and you will be able to incorporate more into a daily routine, or you will find you will be able to walk further as time passes, for example. The important thing is that you do something—there are so many benefits to your health, your balance and your overall mobility at stake.


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