Learning About Getting Moving in the Hospital

Skip Navigation

What does it mean to get moving?

Mobility is being able to move the parts of your body that help you get from place to place. But being in the hospital can make it hard to move. Some injuries and conditions can make you spend a lot of time in bed. One of the most important things you can do for yourself is to find ways to move. When you move as much as you can, even in bed, you are helping your body heal.

Why is it important?

When your body is moving, you are helping to prevent health problems that can happen from lying in a bed. Moving can:

  • Help keep muscles strong and joints flexible.
  • Improve how well you can move air in and out of your lungs.
  • Help keep your memory sharp and your mind active.
  • Help you live longer.

If you are in bed and aren't moving much, you may:

  • Be more at risk for getting blood clots in your legs.
  • Lose strength and some of your range of motion.
  • Start to get skin problems, such as pressure injuries.
  • Have health problems like pneumonia or a urinary infection or become constipated.

How can you move when you're in the hospital?

When you don't feel well, it's easy to think that just getting out of bed is too much to do. But even a small shift in position will help prevent problems like pressure injuries. So don't be afraid to move. Change your position often.

Let your doctor and nurses know that you want to move. They can show you how to change the position of parts of your body, such as your buttocks and legs. And you can practice sitting up and getting in and out of bed safely. Some exercises can be done in a chair. Eat your meals sitting in a chair, rather than lying in bed. As soon as you feel able to, get out of bed for short walks. Even walking around your room can help build up your strength.

A good way to know that you're moving more is to keep a record of your activities.

Who will help you move?

Your care team will work with you to set up a movement plan. They will help create goals for you. The plan can include activities that can be done in lots of ways, such as in bed, while you have an I.V., or while you use a ventilator.

A physical therapist may work with you on movements. They can teach you safe ways to move that will help you the most.

How can family members or friends support you?

There are many ways your family and friends can help you move in the hospital. For example, they can:

  • Take walks with you.
  • Join you in exercise.
  • Help you with daily care, such as with your meals and shifting positions.
  • Encourage you to stay positive, even if some of your movement goals seem hard to reach.
  • Engage you with mental activities, from word games to puzzles.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.