Protect your mobility
Mobility — the ability to move purposefully around your environment — is vitally important to health and well-being.
Nearly one-third to one-half of adults ages 65 and older experience impaired mobility. At first, it may not seem like a big deal — many people with impaired mobility learn to just move a little more slowly and a little more deliberately. Some people work around the problem by relying on a cane or walker.
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That's why it's important to intervene to either prevent future mobility impairments or reduce existing ones. But taking impaired mobility "lying down" can cause your health to spiral downward. As you move less, pounds may start to creep on. You might withdraw from social relationships and activities that challenge you mentally. Exercise may become difficult, and lack of activity can worsen many health problems. This cycle of physical, emotional, and mental decline further restricts mobility.
For most people, the ability to rely on their own bodies, skills, and mental agility is a crucial part of living a satisfying life. Having full mobility helps you fully engage with the world and fosters a sense of self-sufficiency that can help you live independently well into your later years.
To learn how to protect your mobility and keep moving through a satisfying life, buyMobility and Independence, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
What type of mattress is best for people with low back pain?
Back pain is one of the top reasons that people begin to lose mobility in middle age. Pain can keep people from engaging in physical activity, making it more difficult for them to maintain a healthy weight and keep up their strength, stamina, and balance as they age. So treating and managing back pain that results from injuries or health problems is crucial for staying on the path of a healthy and active life.
Considering that most people spend roughly a third of their lives lying in bed, choosing the right mattress is essential for managing low back pain. It can make the difference in whether you can sleep at night and function the next day.
In the past, doctors often recommended very firm mattresses. But one survey of 268 people with low back pain found that those who slept on orthopedic (very hard) mattresses had the poorest sleep quality. There was no difference in sleep quality between those who used medium-firm and firm mattresses.
Soft mattresses, on the other hand, can also be problematic. While a soft mattress that conforms to your body's natural curves may help the joints align favorably, you might also sink in so deeply that your joints twist and become painful during the night.
If you want to find out whether a firmer mattress would feel better than the one you're currently using, try putting a plywood board under your mattress to dampen the movement from the bedsprings, or try placing your mattress on the floor.
Of course, you can also go to a mattress showroom and test a variety of models. But keep in mind that what feels comfortable for a few minutes in a store might not translate into a good night's sleep. A more reliable test is to observe how you feel after sleeping on different types of mattresses while away from home — for example, at a hotel or a friend or relative's house.
For more on how to preserve your mobility so you can stay active, buy Mobility and Independence, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
Mobility and Independence
|•||Mobility and quality of life|
|•||Prime movers: Knees and hips|
|•||A good foundation: Feet and ankles|
|•||A stable support: Your back and posture|
|•||... and more!|
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