As we age, the normal physical changes we experience are often gradual. We may not realize they are happening until we look in the mirror, feel an unfamiliar ache, or just can't perform an activity anymore. As age sneaks up on us, we feel stiff. Aging is not to be taken sitting down. It must be met with intensity, action, and resolve. The old adage, "If you don't use it, you lose it" is correct.
1. Light Up Your World – Get Your Eyes Checked
Over the years, muscles throughout your body change in strength and integrity, and the eyes are no exception. Your mobility is directly proportional to your ability to see your surroundings. Being aware of where you are in space is imperative, so light up your life! Night lights in hallways, kitchens, and tops and bottoms of stairs are a wise investment. Under-countertop lighting in the kitchen will help improve kitchen safety as well. Sunglasses are a must to control light and glare when outdoors. Visit your eye doctor and have your eyes checked at least once a year.
2. Shuffle Now, Fall Later – Get Your Feet Checked
Ankles are one of the first body parts to stiffen. And impaired vision can work against you here also. If you are not seeing well, then you have a tendency to take smaller steps, which often progresses to a shuffle. Do you hear your feet scuffing the ground? When your mobility is challenged, feet get stiffer from lack of motion, and muscles in your legs, hips, and back begin to weaken from lack of use. Decreased mobility is a risk factor for falling. Keep those feet and ankles moving when you are seated so they are ready for action when you resume walking. As you age, the fat pads on the soles of your feet get thinner. Choose your shoes wisely. Make sure they have good arches and cushioning. Consult a physical therapist for foot and ankle exercises, and advice on appropriate footwear for your activities.
3. Check Your Balance – A Major Key to Your Mobility
Don't become a fall risk: You should be able to stand unassisted for two minutes, first on one leg, and then the other. If you can't, then practice, practice, practice. You will improve your balance, core strength, and strength in your lower extremities. From this improved base, you'll see your mobility improve.
4. Stand Tall and Proud – and Breathe
Form and function enhance each other. Optimal posture will enhance the body's efficiency, strength, and flexibility. Good posture encourages the possibility of full lungs, good gas exchange, and good circulation.
5. If You Don't Move it, You'll Lose It
Your body needs to be strengthened, stretched, and challenged. What we did in our youth serves as a good base from which to work, but it will not carry us through to retirement and beyond. Revisit the physical activities you once enjoyed. But be understanding with joints that have lost motion due to injury, surgery, or disease – like arthritis, for example. Consider activities such as good, old-fashioned walking. Do a variety of activities that encourage flexibility, such as swimming, Tai Chi, or yoga.
If your flexibility is not where you think it should be, you have not exercised in a while, or you have questions on how to enhance your current program, consider consulting a movement specialist or a physical therapist.
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.