Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Prepper's Guide To Maintaining Mobility, Flexibility and Movement

By Tim Gamble

Mobility. It is our ability to move around. To walk. To run. To bend down and pick something up. To keep our balance. It is our endurance. Our agility. Our flexibility. Our reflexes. Mobility is important as we go about our daily lives. And our mobility is crucial in an emergency.

For many people, mobility is a challenge. Arthritis, chronic health conditions, joint problems, back problems, bad knees, obesity, and a general lack physical fitness due to our modern sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, all combine to create a real mobility crisis in America. Don't believe me? Just pay attention to people the next time you go to Walmart. It is not just those folks that have to use motorized carts to do their shopping. Many other folks use walkers, canes, or just limp and shuffle along slowly due to their physical ailments. This includes a surprising number of young people.

What can be done about this mobility crisis? Is there anything you can do to improve your mobility problems? In most cases the answer is yes. There are a number of steps folks can take to improve their mobility. Here are some ways to consider:

1) Get moving. The first and most important thing to do to improve your mobility is to simply get moving. Be more physically active. Don't be discouraged if you can't do a lot - baby steps are fine at this point. Do what you can, and do it every day. The key is consistency. You will slowly improve. Go for a walk. If you can't do a long walk, then do a short one. Just get moving. 

Other ways to be physically active and move more include gardening and yardwork, mowing the lawn with a push mower, running, hiking, swimming, riding a bicycle, dancing, yoga, and tai chi. You can find plenty of free yoga and tai chi videos, including beginner level, on YouTube. Start easy, and slowly add to your physical activity. The more you move, the easier it will get over time. But you have to move your body on a regular basis. The modern couch-potato lifestyle is killing you.

2) Get stretching. Stretching and flexibility exercises are not as glamorous and exciting as many other types of exercise. In fact, they can be downright boring. They are also very uncomfortable to do, especially when you are first starting out. This is why many people just don't do them. But that is a mistake. Stretching and flexibility exercises are a foundation for mobility that you can build everyday. Even ten minutes a day will yield many benefits in a matter of only a few weeks. Don't know how to begin? Check out YouTube for many free videos on stretching, including beginner level videos. There re also a number of good articles on the web. Here are some resources to get you started:

3) Lose weight. I know. Easier said than done. But losing weight, even if just 5 or 10 pounds, will pay big dividends to your mobility. Less weight means less pressure and stress on your back, joints, and feet. Carrying less body weight will also help with your endurance. Carrying less weight, particularly in the torso, will help improve your breathing, and you will tire less easily. You don't need to be razor thin, but you do need to get rid of that pot belly. Eat right. Eat less. Get moving. The weight loss will follow.

4) Get fit. If you are doing the first three, you will be making great strides in improving your overall fitness. Take advantage of the momentum you are creating and start a regular exercise program. You don't need a gym membership or expensive exercise equipment. Sure, you could get an expensive Peloton bike or BowFlex machine, and they are great, but for most folks a more affordable option is a simple set of dumbbells

Stretching exercises and calisthenics don't require special equipment, and can be done just about anywhere for free. Just remember the exercises you used to do in gym class back in your school days - jumping jacks, sit-ups, toe-touches, leg squats, windmills, push-ups, and so forth. You can also find lots of videos on YouTube with fitness exercises and workout programs, ranging from basic beginner videos to more advanced workouts.

Exercise balls aren't expensive (many are under $30, some under $20) and are a great for yoga, pilates, and other types of exercise, as well as helping improve your balance. You can simply sit on an exercise ball while you watch television or work on the computer. You'll work on your balance and burn a few more calories at the same time.    

Speaking of balance, walking around the house with a book on your head really may help. It'll improve your balance and your posture at the same time.

Exercise bands are another inexpensive option you can use.

5) Try supplements. Joint problems, including arthritis, can often be helped by nutritional supplements. One that I take everyday is a fish oil supplement providing omega 3's.  Omega 3's are an essential fatty acid, and are considered important for heart, health, and joint function. My 80-year-old Mother also takes these and says she relieves it helps her shoulders and hips.

Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements have long been popular for helping the joints. More recently, turmeric and curcumin have become popular for joint health. 

Note: I am not a doctor or other medical professional. Nothing presented here is meant as professional advice. Please visit your doctor before starting a new exercise routine, and to diagnose and treat any specific conditions you may have. 

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