Keeping active and using a walking aid


Staying active can help to improve your balance, make your joints more flexible and improve your muscle strength. This helps you to:

  • stay independent and do everyday activities
  • avoid falls
  • improve your mood, sleeping patterns and overall health and wellbeing

You can keep your muscles and bones strong by exercising regularly or doing daily activities. 

To keep active and move around safely, you might need to use a walking aid.

Muscle strength

Muscle weakness can make you less independent and stop you doing everyday activities. It can also affect your joints and make them more at risk of injury or being unstable. This can make you more likely to have a fall.

Muscle weakness can happen for several possible reasons, such as:

How to improve your muscle strength

You can keep strong by doing everyday activities, such as:

  • gardening
  • lifting and carrying shopping
  • climbing the stairs instead of taking the lift
  • house cleaning, such as using a vacuum cleaner
  • walking instead of taking the bus or car
  • washing the car

You can also start new activities, such as:

  • ball games and racket sports (like walking football or rugby, badminton, table tennis or doubles tennis)
  • dancing
  • weight training
  • exercise classes

Physiotherapists can help you to increase your strength. They do this by giving you advice, recommending lifestyle changes and showing you suitable exercises.

Using a walking aid

A walking frame or zimmer frame gives more support than a walking stick. It is more stable and helps to improve your confidence.

A rollator frame is a wheeled frame, which is easier to use and move around. It helps you to keep your normal pattern of walking and is good if you have moderate balance problems. However, it is not suitable for using outdoors.

You can buy a walking aid designed for outdoor use. This can be either:

  • a 3-wheeled walker, which has brakes and a small shopping basket (you can fold them together when not in use)
  • a 4-wheeled walker, which has brakes, a seat and a shopping basket (you can fold these up when not in use)

Make sure that your walking aid is the correct height for you. It should be level with your wrist crease when you hold your arm by your side.

Maintaining your walking aid

A walking stick or frame should have a rubber end in contact with the floor. This is called a ‘ferrule’ and stops your walking aid slipping. Ferrules wear out quickly and need to be checked regularly. You can buy replacements from large pharmacies or get them from your physiotherapist.

Make sure that the handles and connecting parts of your walking aid are not loose or wobbly. If they are, contact your physiotherapy department or GP for a replacement.

More information and support

Speak with your physiotherapist for more information on walking aids and what would be suitable for you. You can read more about walking aids on the NHS website.

We have information on exercise and keeping active as an older adult.

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Is this health information page useful?