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Many adults find that they are less active as they get older. Impaired mobility can be a problem for some elderly people, which makes living independently more difficult. Daily exercise can improve mobility in many older adults. If you are not very active or have health problems that make it hard to exercise, speak to your doctor before you begin.
Balance and coordination are essential to maintaining mobility. Impaired balance increases the risk of falls in the elderly. When coupled with the bone density loss -- also known as osteoporosis -- that strikes many older adults, falls can lead to bone fractures and limited mobility. Balance exercises, including standing on one foot and doing leg raises, can improve balance and mobility. Yoga and tai chi are low-impact forms of exercise that can significantly decrease the risk of falling for senior citizens, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
It's common for older adults to have limited mobility because of less flexible joints. Joint pain, stiffness and tenderness associated with arthritis or inactivity can make it harder to get around and go about your daily routine, such as getting dressed, cooking, cleaning the house and bending over to tie your shoes. Flexibility and range-of-motion exercises such as shoulder rolls, an overhead arm reach and knee-to-chest stretches are a few flexibility exercises that can keep your joints moving smoothly and to their fullest capacity. As with balance, tai chi and yoga promote flexibility without putting stress on the joints.
Strength training can also prevent mobility problems in elderly adults. Strong muscles support your bones and joints. Increasing muscle strength can prevent falls by giving you more stability and may lessen joint stiffness. Everyday tasks such as carrying bags from the supermarket, lifting bags of potting soil and getting up from your chair can be easier with improved muscle strength. Weight training, exercises with resistance bands or exercises such as pushups or pull-ups increase your strength, helping you maintain optimum mobility.
Your gait, or walking ability, can be improved through exercise. Studies published in "Physical Therapy" and "Clinical Interventions in Aging" show that therapeutic exercise in the form of physical therapy and tai chi improved gait speed and efficiency in the older adults studied. Walking speed and efficiency -- the amount of energy needed to walk -- are perhaps some of the most important factors involved with mobility. The research showed that the exercises performed by study participants also improved balance and muscle strength. Physical therapy and tai chi are just two examples of exercises that improve mobility; talk to your doctor about workout ideas that can be beneficial to you.