With less movement and increasing age, your energy levels decline. Genetic and environmental factors take their toll, and aging muscles begin to lose mass and flexibility. Everyday activities take more effort and result in more pain. In short, sometimes moving just hurts. Aches and pains seem to come standard when reaching 50 and beyond. Just spend an evening with a group of fellow middle-agers, and once the chatting about the grandkids comes to an end, the conversation moves to topics like pain in the lower back, neck, legs, shoulders, and arms.
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Here’s what happens to the human body when we don’t have good mobility: Our muscles start to dwindle and they get weaker, We develop reduced lung capacity. Our bones reduce in capacity, and we increase the risk of osteoporosis. Our metabolism starts to slow and we start to gain weight. The range of motion we’ve always been accustomed to gets reduced year after year. Our immune system weakens resulting in more illness and slows down healing of the body. Reduced cognition and diminished brain function set in. All this results in an accelerated rate of aging. Wow, what a depressing list :(
One of the best things that helps to increase mobility (by lengthening the muscles and improving posture) is stretching. This is the very reason why most personal trainers will insist you stretch before and after exercise. Increasing your mobility won’t just enable you to reach further than you have before, it also ensures that strenuous activities don’t result in muscle injuries and strains. It promotes the longevity of your full range of motion, something that naturally declines as you get older and start moving a lot less.
Holistic Approach to Mobility
When we talk about helping people move better, we're taking a big-picture approach. It's not just about the body moving; it's about everything around it. We look at how the mind, body, and surroundings all work together. This way, we don't just treat the surface problems; we dig deeper to find out what's really going on. By understanding each person's unique needs, we can come up with solutions that really make a difference. It's like connecting the dots between health, feelings, and the world around us to help everyone move better and feel good about it.
Improving your mobility involves a combination of physical activity, flexibility, and lifestyle changes. Stretching keeps your muscles healthy, strong, and mobile, and are ready when you need them. Better yet, they’re not prone to injury when you do need them. Stretching is a mere stepping-stone for more movement. So, if your goal is to become more active again, implementing a regular stretching routine should always be your first step.
Let’s talk about your quality of life for a minute. Most 50+ers don’t want to become a burden to those around them. They also don’t want to spend every waking minute glued to the sofa because everything just seems like an overwhelming physical effort. Unfortunately, you will be a burden or possibly immobile if you don’t spend time keeping fit and active. Your energy and fitness levels aren’t going to naturally improve as you get older. They will simply get worse. But by stepping in with some healthy stretching, you can interrupt the downward spiral of getting old and immobile.
Stretching is not a quick fix, but it IS the secret to a life where you can bend and stretch for things easily, carry your own groceries, and endure fewer aches and pains along the way. We talk from our own personal experience when we tell you that stretching makes you more stable, more able, and more agile. A short two decades ago, we weren't nearly as active as we are today. We weren't engaging in the sports and activities that we wanted to be in. There was more talk than action. All that changed for us (and to be quite honest), it all started with a simple daily stretching routine.
Regular Exercise for Mobility
Being designed for movement means that you can and will have mobility again if you're willing to be consistent about it. If you played sports or indulged in exercise in your youth, you might remember that it didn't come naturally then either. You had to work on your fitness level, and it's the same now that you're older. Your muscles may have forgotten what it feels like to move and stretch the way they used to, but if you put in a little bit of work every day or even every week, you will notice how quickly they (your muscles, that is) are willing to learn new things and even excel at them.
One of the biggest unwelcome visitors of old age is declining muscle mass. It doesn't matter if you're male or female; the idea of dwindling muscles is upsetting. That said, muscle mass affects men a little more than it affects women. And when muscle mass declines, other things start to go awry too. For starters, you're at a greater risk of fracturing hip bones, collarbones, legs, arms, and wrists when falling. This is thanks to increased weakness and declining mobility, both nasty side effects of declining muscle mass. Declining muscle mass is the result of a combination of things happening to and in your body.
Firstly, you're less active when you get older (or you have gradually become less active over the years), and then you're also going through hormonal changes as your body ages. No one wants to think about their muscles melting away (if anything, we would prefer that our fat would melt away!) While declining muscle mass is a fact of life in old age, you can increase your muscle mass and maintain it by introducing strength training and a protein-rich diet to your daily/weekly routine.
Most people accept joint pain and arthritis as some sort of right of passage when aging, but the truth is that making healthy changes early on can help you thwart the severity of this part of the aging process. Rheumatologists may even tell you that while joint pains are more common in older folk, they are not guaranteed facts of life. You don't have to be that sore and achy. You can live a relatively pain-free life even after 50!
One thing that we cannot get away from as we get older is that our bodies age. We can slow down aging and better manage the process, but we can’t stop it. As part of the aging process – and we’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news – your body will go through various degenerative changes. Unfortunately, the spine is often the first to experience negative side effects. Having a strong core can provide terrific benefits, but what does that tell you about a weak core? Are you familiar with pain that sneaks up on you, the sudden strange posture, the hunched-over look (scoliosis)? All of these things are thanks to the spine and its function degenerating. And it’s not just the bones and joints of the spine, it’s the muscles too.
At the same time, structures of bones and cartilage also go through some changes and become sensitive to wear and tear. This happens because the core is not strong enough to maintain the body in the correct posture. And if you let all of this happen without intercepting the symptoms, it’s a pretty fast downhill journey to poor mobility, crooked spinal development, and aches and pains to boot. the words. Here's an article we wrote for those who are looking to start with a basic exercise routine.
*If you have any pre-existing conditions that have made exercise and stretching impossible over the years, it is best to consult with your physician before you start getting active.
Stability & Balance
There’s a link between posture and mobility. At this stage, you’re probably wondering why it’s your core that’s responsible for keeping the body aligned and not your posture. We spend many years being told that posture is the key to good body alignment. But, unfortunately, you’re not told the whole story. There’s a link between posture and mobility. Posture is important for body alignment. It’s downright essential, but what you don’t know is that core strength plays an integral role in how good your posture is - and how bad it is too. Weak core muscles are the culprit of slouching, protruding your shoulders, or simply sitting and standing incorrectly. When the core muscles are strong, they pull the body into a position (the correct one) that eases the strain on your back muscles. As a result, you can stand up straight and enjoy mobility at the same time!
Healthy Nutrition for Joints
To improve your mobility we cannot emphasize enough, the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. That extra weight you carry puts excess pressure on your joints, making you more prone to joint pain. Watch what you eat. While many foods spur swelling, pain, and inflammation in the body, other foods have anti-inflammatory effects. Eating more whole foods (by avoiding those all-too-convenient ready-made meals) is a great way to eat right and save your joints from unnecessary aches and pains. We help you get started right with the following table.
15 Foods That Help With Mobility
Check out the following table (no pun intended) that shows 15 healthy foods that can help support joint function and overall health, leading to improved mobility.
FOOD FOR JOINT FUNCTION
Fatty Fish (e.g., salmon, mackerel)
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and may alleviate joint pain.
Berries (e.g., blueberries, strawberries)
Packed with antioxidants that help protect joints from damage.
Contains vitamins C and K, as well as calcium, promoting bone health and reducing inflammation.
High in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, supporting joint health.
Loaded with vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin K for bone health.
Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger may help reduce joint pain.
Contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects beneficial for joints.
Contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that may decrease joint inflammation.
Rich in monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, supporting overall joint health.
Has anti-inflammatory properties that may help manage arthritis symptoms.
High in vitamin C, essential for collagen formation and joint protection.
Dairy (e.g., milk, yogurt)
Good sources of calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and joints.
Contains polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties, potentially easing joint pain.
Provides healthy fats and vitamin E, promoting joint health.
Packed with beta-carotene and vitamins, contributing to a healthy inflammatory response.
*Remember, while these foods may support joint health, it's important to maintain a balanced diet and consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice. Individuals differ in various aspects such as health, diet, tastes, preferences, fitness ability, and age.
Adequate Rest and Recovery
Of course, it’s not all about exercise. You also need to ensure that your body is getting enough rest and repair so that it can heal and be strong. If you overdo it, your immune system will take a knock, and you will only set yourself back. Because of this, it’s important to plan your exercise for the week. Set out the times and days and set the remaining time for rest. During your rest times, make sure you’re sleeping enough, eating right, practicing deep breathing (which is great for anxiety and high blood pressure by the way), and stretching, but in a relaxing way. If you allow your body time to rest, it will serve you even better when you need it to be active and strong.
We encourage you to start incorporating small changes into your daily routine to improve mobility. It's never too late to invest in yourself and your overall well-being. Life can be amazing after 50, especially when you're physically able to enjoy it. Make this the healthiest time of your life! There's no reason you should spend it in pain, discomfort, and declining health.
Recommended reading on mobility: LIFE AFTER 50, STRETCHING