Let’s talk about . . . mobility.
You’re all probably familiar with the 4 types of exercise (cardio, strength, flexibility, and balance) and how important it is to combine all 4 when designing your personal fitness program. (And in case you’re not, here’s a link to a great explanation.)
But there’s something else to consider and develop in our fitness journeys, too . . . and that’s mobility.
When you hear fitness people talk about mobility (and it is kind of a buzz-y topic these days), they’re really talking about your joints’ ability to actively move through their full ranges of motion (as opposed to flexibility, which is the ability of your soft tissues – muscles, ligaments, tendons – to passively stretch). Mobility is what helps us move around effortlessly, with a sense of stability and control, so we’re able to do whatever it is we want to do! Good mobility is actually the foundation for all other types of exercise and daily movement.
And, as you might guess, improving and maintaining our mobility is critical as we age. (Yes. It’s that old “use-it-or-lose-it” thing again.) You all know this already . . . but as we age, our muscle mass declines, our bone density decreases, and our nervous system responses slow down. And we’re more susceptible to chronic health conditions like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases that can also impact our mobility.
It’s really no surprise that pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion happen more often as we age. But we can fight back! We can improve and maintain our range of motion with mobility training.
As you know (because I keep telling you), I have rheumatoid arthritis, which can severely impact mobility and range of motion. I was diagnosed with RA at age 30, and have been determined ever since to make sure my arthritis doesn’t keep me from doing (most) anything I want to do. There have been a few exceptions. I don’t ski anymore. And I gave up playing tennis and turning cartwheels. Other than that? I’ve not had to give up much. I’ve found ways to adapt — and to keep moving.
But . . . I’ve had to work at it! Hard. And it’s gotten a bit more challenging for me as I’ve gotten older. So late last year, I decided to get serious about mobility training – and I’ve had some really amazing results. (Enough that I really wish “mobility training” had been A Thing in the earlier days of my arthritis journey.)
For the next couple of months, I’m going to focus my monthly fitness challenges on mobility. I’m afraid I’ve become kind of a mobility-zealot. And I want you to be one, too! Mobility, after all . . . is primarily a lifestyle choice. (Moving . . . begets easier moving.) And I’m pretty sure all of us want to keep moving well as we get older! The key to increasing and maintaining good mobility for the rest of our lives . . . is regular physical activity – which can include mobility training.
So. Here’s my challenge for you this month . . .
Take some time to assess your own mobility.
Yeah. Nothing hard. I just want you to think about how your body feels . . . when you move. (Baby steps, my friends.) So . . . how to do this? I want you to just tune in to how you’re moving your body this month. Pay special attention to what movements feel good, and what movements are a challenge for you — and especially note those movements you tend to avoid.
A few questions to ask yourself for your assessment:
- Can I turn my head from side to side to glance over my shoulder?
- Can I twist my upper body (gently, of course) to look behind me?
- Can I lift my arms up over my head to get something out of the cupboard?
- Can I bend my elbows?
- Can I flex my wrists?
- Can I move my fingers individually?
- Can I sit cross-legged on the floor?
- Can I flex my knees enough to walk up and down the stairs?
- Can I stand up on my tip-toes to reach for something?
- Can I spread my toes out on the floor when I’m barefoot?
Just figure out . . . where you are, mobility-wise.
It’s a start!
And stay tuned for the next chapter in our mobility journey next month.
See what happens!
2023 Monthly Fitness Challenges
Looking for Monthly Fitness Challenges from 2021-2022? I’ve moved them! Now you can find them in the Field Notes section of the blog (just click on Field Notes in the top menu) and look for Monthly Fitness Challenges 2021-2022.