Did you know that for an older adult with limited mobility, 25-30 minutes of sedentary activity per day lead increases the risk of he or she developing heart disease by 1%? Apart from that, less movement actually reduces mobility even more. For these and many more reasons, exercise is very important for adults with limited mobility even more-so than for everyone else. However, older adults with limited mobility may find it very difficult to achieve the 150 minutes of exercise per week recommended by the CDC. Even then, any physical activity is better than none and Tai Chi may be a great option for those with limited mobility.
You may think that because you have limited mobility or you are older and never really exercised, there’s no point in starting now. However, that’s far from the truth. Studies show and physicians agree that starting an exercise regimen at any age and physical ability is beneficial. Particularly for those with limited mobility, exercise can lubricate joints;keep them flexible, increase blood circulation, strengthen muscles (especially postural and mobilization muscles), stabilize the spine and improve range of motion.
For example, Tai Chi can be practiced in a chair. There are modified versions of Tai Chi for people confined to wheelchairs and those who cannot stay on their feet for short or prolonged periods. “Studies have found that even in people in their nineties living in nursing homes, starting an exercise routine can boost muscle strength. Other research shows that starting exercise late in life can still cut the risk of health problems — such as diabetes –and improve symptoms.”
If you have to stay in a chair or bed for prolonged periods of time, exercise is important to help improve your circulation. Exercise will also help you keep your muscles strong and flexible which can reduce pain. You may actually find that exercise makes you feel stronger and you may be able to sit up more and may not have some of the back pain you had. When the muscles in your core are slack, weak or tense, your other muscles try and compensate to keep your body structure upright. Strengthening, flexing and building the endurance of these muscles will allow the different parts of your body to work as they should instead of compensating for other parts.
Additionally, people who have limited mobility can benefit from aerobic activity. Aerobic activity gets your heart pumping and is necessary for heart health. Just like everyone else, people with limited mobility need exercise for a healthy heart. While Tai Chi may be a gentle exercise, it gets your heart pumping, even when you practice while seated or other adaptive forms. Aerobic activity can help you lose or maintain weight, which is difficult to do if you have limited mobility.
If you have limited mobility, consider trying Tai Chi. The more you move, the more your body learns to move. Remaining sedentary is not good for your heart or your muscles. It’s never too late to start and even a little bit of exercise will go a long way.