Mind, mood and mobility

Published: April, 2021

Most mobility tests measure what your body is capable of doing. But your mind is just as important in determining how much you move in your daily life.

Often, a health setback—like a fall or arthritis pain—can sap people's confidence or their willingness to venture outside the house. You may give up driving or stop taking walks. Eventually, you mostly stay home, and your movements become slower, stiffer, and more halting. This loss of mobility can further worsen health problems. It can also diminish your connections with friends and loved ones and your engagement in activities you enjoy. It can affect your mood, leading to depression. You might stop following a daily schedule and fall into poor dietary habits, either gaining weight that further hinders movement, or eating too little and losing energy and resilience.

This cycle of reduced mobility, poor psychological health, and physical deterioration can stem from a life change—such as the death of a spouse—as much as from a health problem. Your mind, mood, and mobility are intrinsically linked. That's why maintaining your emotional health and mental engagement are so important for healthy aging.

If your actual mobility does not match your physical capabilities, it's important to ask why. Is depres-sion, loneliness, anxiety, or fear slowing you down? Are you struggling with retirement or the death of a loved one? Consider talking about these issues with your doctor, a mental health professional, or a trusted friend.

Think about what motivates you to move—what are your reasons to get up in the morning? It might be family, social connections, volunteer work, shopping, cultural experiences, enjoying nature, or walking a dog. Build more of these motivating experiences into your life to maintain your emotional and physical health. Establish some daily and weekly routines; following a schedule helps you stay active even when your mood or motivation flags.

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