Posted on 04/24/2018
Developing a mobility issue can be extremely frustrating and restrictive, especially if you are used to living a fun and active life. Everything that you once enjoyed and could do with ease from walking to the park through to making your dinner becomes more challenging, making staying active and healthy much harder.
As an Occupational therapist who has been helping people with mobility issues maintain their independence and strength over the past 17 years I want to share my top 5 tips to staying active and healthy when facing reduced mobility.
Find Ways To Move
This may at times be challenging and it may feel frustrating to hear me say this but – don’t let your mobility issue stop you from finding ways to exercise.
While you may not be able to run 10km or hit the Stairmaster like you used to not all hope is lost. There are many low impact ways to keep moving and exercise a priority in your life.
Choose something that you can do safely and independently with the support of your mobility device. This could be:
- Chair exercises where you sit and move your arms and legs through their full range of movement. If this is easy then add weights, 1 – 2 lbs or a can of beans.
- Sitting to standing exercises using your mobility aid for support in standing.
- Walking along your corridor if you live in an apartment. Or going out for a slow walk at accessible park in your local area.
If exercise wasn’t a priority when you were fully able it’s never too late to start. Begin with 10 minutes a day and build up to 60 minutes. It doesn’t have to be all done at the same time if you are limited by other factors e.g. shortness of breath. You can spread it out e.g. 15 minutes 4 x a day.
Regular exercise is important to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.
No matter who you are and what your mobility is like exercising alone is never that fun or motivating. Plan to do the exercises with a spouse, family member, and friend and make it a regular activity in your calendar so that you remain accountable and committed.
- Monday – walk with mum
- Tuesday – walk with a friend
- Wednesday – join a walking group
Being social helps boost your mood and can help keep you positive during challenging times. If you are recovering from an injury or have a mobility issue and don’t have a local support then we recommend joining an online or local community who can offer support and social interactions.
When you suffer from reduced mobility and are forced to spend more energy than an able-bodied person on daily tasks so staying hydrated is more important than ever. Make sure you drink water throughout the day. This helps to keep you hydrated preventing unwanted infections and illnesses. 8 cups a day is recommended and can easily be incorporated into your day using the following plan:
- Cup One – first thing when you wake up
- Cup Two – with breakfast or before you leave the house
- Cup Three and four – Keep a bottle of water with you or a glass on your table at work for the morning
- Refill at lunch
- Cup five and six in the afternoon
- Refill at the end of work or around 5 pm
- Cup seven at dinner
- Cup eight before getting ready for bed
Choose healthy meal and snack options
When you suffer from reduced mobility issues your diet becomes more important than ever as it’s harder to burn calories and maintain your weight through movement and exercise.
Make it part of your everyday routine to eat healthy food in healthy portions. Depending on your goal for weight loss, gain or maintenance your diet will change.
You can learn more about nutrition and find meal plans that work with your goals you can sign up for websites such as:
- Dietitians Of Canada
- Nutrition News
Buy A Device That Helps You Stay Active
The selection of a mobility device on the market is vast and thankfully improving. For a long time, a lot of devices available were bulky and didn’t allow for users to maintain the correct posture. One device that I have worked with closely is The BiKube. It is a hands-free mobility device that lets users maintain eye contact and their posture in addition to staying active and navigate small indoor spaces.
Devices like this can be great for those wanting to maintain their independence and health. You can find out what device is the best for you by requesting an Occupational Therapy or Physiotherapy Assessment from your local health department.
As I’ve mentioned previously, adjusting is challenging and can lead to frustration and depression if you don’t have the right support system in place.
This is where Mindfulness exercises and meditation can assist. Mindfulness is practiced by maintaining continuous awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings in a nurturing non-judgemental way.
To help with everyday focus and reduce anxiety incorporate 5 – 10 minutes of mindfulness exercises 2 – 3 times a day.
This will help keep you calm and focus your attention on the tasks that you need to do that day. Apps like Calm, or Headspace are great and have either a free trial or free options. Practice before or after meals or snacks to help make it part of your regular routine.
I hope this blog helps you continue on your journey to being active and healthy while living with reduced mobility. Doing so is important in preventing pain, maintaining strength and range of movement and most of all generally making you feel better.