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Exercise is good for you at any age, but never on the stairs

12:00am | & Health

There are many reasons why people who would benefit from an Acorn Stairlift put off getting one, but perhaps the most worrying one we hear is… “climbing the stairs is the only exercise I get”.

It’s easy to understand what someone means when they say this; that climbing the stairs, however uncomfortable or tiring, at least forces them to exert some physical effort during the day. Fitting a stairlift might feel like giving up on exercise and giving in to immobility. But it needn’t be that way.

For a start, if there’s one place in your home where you really shouldn’t be exercising with limited mobility, it is your stairs. A slip or trip elsewhere in your home might have unwanted consequences, but they will be far worse if it happens on the stairs. Similarly, getting lightheaded or dizzy through physical exertion on the stairs is very dangerous. Whatever you do, don’t fall on the stairs.

Far better to let an Acorn Stairlift glide you smoothly up and downstairs in comfort and safety, then put the energy you save into a planned and enjoyable exercise regime in a safe and secure environment. Getting regular exercise remains important throughout life and can bring benefits in many areas, not just for physical wellbeing but to boost your mood, ease depression, relieve stress, improve your self-esteem and enhance you whole outlook on life.

Limited mobility doesn’t have to stop you exercising – it’s just a matter of finding the right exercise for you, both in terms of the health benefits it brings and how it makes you feel. It’s important that you enjoy the exercise you choose, as you’re less likely to keep it up if you think of it as a chore.

The really important thing is to speak to your doctor or other health professional before embarking on a new exercise regime. They will be able to advise on the best type of exercise to suit your individual circumstances. They should also have information about suitable exercise classes or activity groups in your area, if you would like to join a supervised group. For many people this is a good way to make sure you exercise on a regular basis, with the added benefit of making new friends and enjoying a social aspect to your exercise.

Other people might prefer to exercise at home and again there are many options available, including sitting exercises if you find it difficult to stand for any length of time. Another key thing with exercise is to start slowly and build up gradually, increasing the amount or intensity of exercise only when you feel ready to do so. A little bit on a regular basis is far better than throwing yourself in at the deep end and overdoing it.

Exercise can be designed to build strength, enhance flexibility, improve balance, or a combination of all three. There is also strong evidence that moderate intensity, low-impact activity is just as effective in lowering the risk of heart disease as more physically demanding forms of exercise.

Perhaps the most effective low-impact exercise, and certainly the most popular, is simply walking. It needs no specialist equipment (other than a good pair of comfortable, flat shoes), it can be done in your local area, you can set your own route and distance and take rests along the way as you need them. You could also walk with a friend or join a walking group if you want to exercise with others.

A more recent development is ‘Nordic Walking’, which is walking while using a walking pole in each hand. Some people describe it as skiing without the skis, but it can be a great option if you need a little reassurance from walking sticks, and it works the upper body as well as the legs. There may well be a Nordic walking group in your area, or you can do it alone or with a friend.

Swimming is another great exercise which works the whole body while putting minimum stress on the joints. You can go at your own pace and build up how much you do as you get fitter and it gets easier. Other examples of low-impact exercise include yoga, tai chi, pilates and aqua aerobics. These are often done in supervised classes or groups, but not necessarily so.

You could also start an activity which lets you exercise as a beneficial side-effect, such as playing bowls, golf or dancing. Even singing in a choir will benefit your breathing and general fitness. Whatever you decide to do to boost your exercise and improve your health, it’s a good idea to check first with your doctor that it’s right for you. And remember, the stairs are never a good place, or a safe place, to get your exercise.

For more information on easy exercises to get you started, visit the NHS Choices website by clicking here.

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