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  • Writer's pictureCRAIG BRYAN

Mobility for Active Adults: How Exercise Keeps Us Moving Right

People in Utah are known for enjoying healthy, active lifestyles. That includes downhill skiing on the magnificent mountains, a sport that requires strength, endurance, and mobility – or the full range of motion in our joints. In Salt Lake City, many mature adults who want to continue their activities see trainer Ryan Carver. He explains that mobility goes beyond flexibility, and why it is so important to all of us as we age. That's true whether you’re a skier in Utah or anyone who wants to keep enjoying life anywhere. “Flexibility is what someone can do to you – it’s passive,” he says. “Like when a physical therapist bends your leg into a certain position. “But mobility is in another camp. Mobility is doing the work.” A simple comparison: When we bend at the waist to touch our toes, with gravity pushing us down, that’s flexibility; we see mobility when we, say, stand on one foot and raise the other as high as possible in front of us. Regardless of whether you ski or just want to remain pain free and avoid falling, mobility is essential. It is just as important for everyday tasks like putting on a coat or getting out of bed without stiffness. Mobility exercises usually involve bodyweight and other strength training moves, like squats and deadlifts. They give us long-lasting ability to move joints properly and avoid pain, more than mere stretching, which can bring temporary relief.

We need the strength training for a simple reason: “Muscles move bones,” Ryan says. Why Mobility Matters Can you squat down and then get back up? How high can you raise your foot in front of you – or behind you? Do your joints ache, like your wrists, hips and knees? Moving with stability and control (another phrase for "mobility") can become more challenging as we age. With poor mobility, we can lose the ability to do things we enjoy; have a higher risk of falling; and experience social isolation. Studies suggest that the more we exercise, the better off we’ll be. Mobility limitations in older adults are commonly caused by low physical activity, strength or balance impairment, obesity, and chronic illness like diabetes. In addition to strength training, mobility work often includes foam rolling, mobility drills, and stretching. By working out to increase our mobility, we help avoid injury; protect and support joints; and maintain a fuller range of motion. For maturing active adults, mobility work is essential for a safe, healthy lifestyle – whether you’re picking up grocery bags or kettlebells; or cleaning house or completing a workout. Move It Or Lose It Sore joints, limited movement and joint pain are often made worse by our sedentary lifestyles. We sit a lot. We don’t move a lot for work. We look at screens too much. “Your movement patterns influence your posture and vice versa, and the same thing goes for your exercise selection,” says Atlanta trainer Robert Haddocks, who also works frequently with people over 50. “If you sit at a desk all day in a rounded, slouched position, your body over time will migrate to that position of familiarity. If you constantly do bench presses and other chest exercises without giving your back equal attention, that, too, will lead to an unflattering rounded back. Constantly texting and looking down at your phone? Poor posture, pain and dysfunction could result.” Take an active role in maintaining your mobility so you can live the life you want to live. We’re here to show you how. Share to Help someone you know.

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