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Taking small steps to reach your mobility goals

They might be small steps, but small steps are important.

Ian is a 71-year-old retired businessman who lives in Doreen on the outskirts of Melbourne. When Ian was just twenty years old, he experienced a car accident that shattered his right leg and ankle. The recovery was long, but Ian was able to walk unaided and take up golf, which he enjoyed for over forty years.

However, for just over ten years, the injury he sustained as a young man has robbed him of nearly all mobility. Ian has had to give up golf because of the uneven ground of the golf course, and in more recent years has been unable to walk any distance. A favourite activity is walking with his wife and their dog. Now, he can only do that with the help of a mobility scooter.

Despite copious operations to improve his ankle joint, Ian felt his strength drain away, along with his motivation. His new inactive life has helped in adding extra kilos, which in turn has added extra stress and pain to his joints.

Although Ian has been to numerous gyms over his life, he felt uncomfortable to return to this sort of exercise environment. His guiding belief was that this was not the place for him at his age and stage of life. Ian firmly believed that the gym was a place for the young and the mobile.

It was not until Ian’s wife joined a small boutique personal training studio that had a specialised program for older adults that Ian felt comfortable to return to a gym environment. With the help of a fitness instructor who understood what he could and could not do, Ian has slowly begun to regain his strength and mobility.

And while Ian will always be limited by the permanent damage in his ankle, he has changed his mind about the benefits of strength training. The benefits are obvious in both his body and his mind.

Ian believes there are a few key factors that make a gym and a gym program accessible for older people, regardless of their starting fitness and previous injuries:

  • Having an individual program – this needs to be written by a fitness instructor who understands your existing conditions, limitations, and can work with you.
  • Small group environment – this means more access to the instructor and is important when exercises need to be modified.
  • Social interaction – being able to chat and hang out with those who are at a similar age and stage in life makes an exercise program that much more interesting and easier to stick to.
  • Value for money – for many retirees, watching finances is necessary and a one-on-one personal trainer may be out of the budget.

Like many of us, Ian and his wife enjoyed travelling and they hope to again. Ian is using this time to build his strength, so that he can be ready to travel once again. Being strong for Ian means that he feels confident to be as independent as possible. And that, even with the use of support aides, is priceless.

Last updated: September 26, 2023 at: 11:27 pm