Disabled Exercise Guide

You do not need to have full mobility to experience the health benefits of exercise. If injury, disability or illness have limited your mobility, there are still many ways that you can use exercise to boost your mood, ease depression, relieve stress and anxiety, enhance your self-esteem, and improve your whole outlook on life. While there are challenges that come with having mobility issues, by adopting a creative approach, you can overcome any physical limitations and find enjoyable ways to get active and improve your health and well-being.

Here are a list of exercises for people with limited mobility, we hope they can help you.

Cardiovascular exercise in a wheelchair:

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, and can be fun when playing along with a Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360 video game.
  • 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 in a wheelchair:

Many traditional upper body exercises can be done from a seated position using dumbbells, resistance 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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