The benefits of exercise are not restricted to people who have full mobility. In fact, if injury, disability, illness, or weight problems have limited your mobility, it’s even more important to experience the mood-boosting effects of exercise.
Exercise can ease depression, relieve stress and anxiety, enhance self-esteem, and improve your whole outlook on life. While there are many challenges that come with having mobility issues, by adopting a creative approach, you can overcome your physical limitations and find enjoyable ways to exercise.
Limited mobility doesn’t mean you can’t exercise.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that energize your mood, relieve stress, boost your self-esteem, and trigger an overall sense of well-being.
If you’re a regular exerciser currently sidelined with an injury, you’ve probably noticed how inactivity has caused your mood and energy levels to sink. This is understandable: exercise has such a powerful effect on mood it can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication.
However, an injury doesn’t mean your mental and emotional health is doomed to decline. While some injuries respond best to total rest, most simply require you to reevaluate your exercise routine with help from your doctor or physical therapist.
It’s important to remember that any type of exercise will offer health benefits. Mobility issues inevitably make some types of exercise easier than others, but no matter your physical situation, you should aim to incorporate three different types of exercise into your routines:
That raise your heart rate and increase your endurance. These can include walking, running, cycling, dancing, tennis, swimming, water aerobics, or “aquajogging”.
Many people with mobility issues find exercising in water especially beneficial as it supports the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort.
Even if you’re confined to a chair or wheelchair, it’s still possible to perform cardiovascular exercise.
Strength Training Exercises
Involve using weights or other resistance to build muscle and bone mass, improve balance, and prevent falls. If you have limited mobility in your legs, your focus will be on upper body strength training. Similarly, if you have a shoulder injury, for example, your focus will be more on strength training your legs and abs.
Help enhance your range of motion, prevent injury, and reduce pain and stiffness. These may include stretching exercises . Even if you have limited mobility in your legs, for example, you may still benefit from stretches and flexibility exercises to prevent or delay further muscle atrophy.
How to exercise with limited mobility tip 1: Starting an Exercise routine
1.Start slow and gradually increase your activity level.
Start with an activity you enjoy, go at your own pace, and keep your goals manageable. Accomplishing even the smallest fitness goals will help you gain body confidence and keep you motivated.
2.Make exercise part of your daily life.
Plan to exercise at the same time every day and combine a variety of exercises to keep you from getting bored.
3.Stick with it.
It takes about a month for a new activity to become a habit. Write down your reasons for exercising and a list of goals and post them somewhere visible to keep you motivated. Focus on short-term goals, such as improving your mood and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which can take longer to achieve. It’s easier to stay motivated if you enjoy what you’re doing, so find ways to make exercise fun. Listen to music while you workout, or exercise with friends.
4.Expect ups and downs.
Don’t be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. It happens. Just get started again and slowly build up to your old momentum.
How to exercise with limited mobility tip 2: Staying safe when Exercising
1.Stop exercising if you experience pain,
discomfort, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, or clammy hands. Listening to your body is the best way to avoid injury.
2.Avoid activity involving an injured body part.
If you have an upper body injury, exercise your lower body while the injury heals, and vice versa. When exercising after an injury has healed, start back slowly, using lighter weights and less resistance
3.Warm up, stretch, and cool down.
Warm up with a few minutes of light activity such as walking, arm swinging, and shoulder rolls, followed by some light stretching (avoid deep stretches when your muscles are cold). After your exercise routine, whether it’s cardiovascular, strength training, or flexibility exercise, cool down with a few more minutes of light activity and deeper stretching.
4.Drink plenty of water
Your body performs best when it’s properly hydrated.
5.Wear appropriate clothing
Such as supportive footwear and comfortable clothing that won’t restrict your movement.
Workouts For Upper Body Injury Or Disability
Depending on the location and nature of your injury or disability, you may still be able to walk, jog, use an elliptical machine, or even swim using flotation aids. If not, try using a stationary upright or recumbent bike for cardiovascular exercise.
When it comes to strength training, your injury or disability may limit your use of free weights and resistance bands, or may just mean you have to reduce the weight or level of resistance.
Consult with your doctor or physical therapist for safe ways to work around the injury or disability, and make use of exercise machines in a gym or health club, especially those that focus on the lower body.
If you experience joint problems from arthritis or an injury, for example, a doctor or physical therapist may recommend isometric exercises to help maintain muscle strength or prevent further muscle deterioration. Isometric exercises require you to push against immovable objects or another body part without changing the muscle length or moving the joint.
Electro Muscle Stimulation
If you’ve experienced muscle loss from an injury, disability, or long period of immobility, electro muscle stimulation may be used to increase blood circulation and range of motion in a muscle. Muscles are gently contracted using electrical current transmitted via electrodes placed on the skin.
How To Exercise In A Chair or Wheelchair
Chair-bound exercises are ideal for people with lower body injuries or disabilities, those with weight problems or diabetes, and frail seniors looking to reduce their risk of falling. Cardiovascular and flexibility chair exercises can help improve posture and reduce back pain, while any chair exercise can help alleviate body sores caused by sitting in the same position for long periods. They’re also a great way to squeeze in a workout while you’re listening to music or praying.
If possible, choose a chair that allows you to keep your knees at 90 degrees when seated. If you’re in a wheelchair, securely apply the brakes or otherwise immobilize the chair.
Try to sit up tall while exercising and use your abs to maintain good posture.
If you suffer from high blood pressure, check your blood pressure before exercising and avoid chair exercises that involve weights.
Test your blood sugar before and after exercise if you take diabetes medication that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
For more great Health and Nutrition Tips refer to the website positivehealthwellness.com.
Cardiovascular Exercise In A Chair Or Wheelchair
If you want to add competition to your workouts, several organizations offer adaptive exercise programs and competitions for sports such as basketball, track and field, volleyball, and weightlifting. See Resources section below.
Chair aerobics, a series of seated repetitive movements, will raise your heart rate and help you burn calories, as will many strength training exercises when performed at a fast pace with a high number of repetitions. In fact any rapid, repetitive movements offer aerobic benefits and can also help to loosen up stiff joints.
Wrap a lightweight resistance band under your chair (or bed or couch, even) and perform rapid resistance exercises, such as chest presses, for a count of one second up and two seconds down.
Try several different exercises to start, with 20 to 30 reps per exercise, and gradually increase the number of exercises, reps, and total workout time as your endurance improves.
Simple air-punching, with or without hand weights, is an easy cardio exercise from a seated position.
Many swimming pools and health clubs offer pool-therapy programs with access for wheelchair users. If you have some leg function, try a water aerobics class.
Some gyms offer wheelchair-training machines that make arm-bicycling and rowing possible. For a similar exercise at home, some portable pedal machines can be used with the hands when secured to a table in front of you.
Strength Training Exercise In A Chair Or Wheelchair
Many traditional upper body exercises can be done from a seated position using dumbbells, resistant bands, or anything that is weighted and fits in your hand, like soup cans.
Perform exercises such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, and triceps extensions using heavier weights and more resistance than for cardio exercises. Aim for two to three sets of 8 to 12 repetitions for each exercise, adding weight and more exercises as your strength improves.
Resistance bands can be attached to furniture, a doorknob, or your chair. Use these for pull-downs, shoulder rotations, and arm and leg-extensions.
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