How to Exercise with Limited Mobility
You don’t have to be limited in mobility to exercise.
To reap the health benefits of exercising, you don’t have to be fully mobile. You don’t have to exercise if you are disabled, sick, or have a disability. There are many ways to improve your mood, anxiety, self-esteem, stress, and overall outlook.
Your body releases endorphins when you exercise. These hormones can boost your mood, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and promote a sense of well-being. You’ve likely noticed how your energy and mood have dropped if you are a regular exerciser who is currently injured. It’s understandable; exercise can have a profound effect on mood and can even treat mild-to-moderate depression as well as antidepressant medication. An injury does not mean that your mental or emotional health will decline. Some injuries require total rest, while others may need to be rehabilitated with the help of a physical therapist or doctor.
You may feel that you cannot exercise because of a disability, weight problem, chronic condition, diabetes, arthritis or another ongoing illness. You might be worried about your health and being injured or falling if you exercise. Regardless of your age or current physical condition, you can overcome mobility issues and reap the physical, mental and emotional benefits of exercising.
What kinds of exercise can you do with limited mobility?
Remember that all types of exercise can have health benefits. While mobility issues will make certain types of exercise more difficult than others, it is important to include three types of exercise in your daily routine, regardless of your physical condition.
Cardiovascular exercise increases your heart rate and endurance. These include running, biking, swimming, dancing, tennis and water aerobics. People with mobility problems find that exercising in water is especially beneficial. It supports the body and reduces muscle or joint pain. It’s possible to do cardiovascular exercise even if you are in a wheelchair or a chair.
Strength Training Exercises use weights or resistance to build muscle mass and balance, prevent falls and improve balance. Your focus should be on strength training for the upper body if you have restricted mobility in your legs. Similar to a shoulder injury, strength training your core and legs will be your main focus.
Flexibility exercise can increase your range of motion, prevent injuries, and reduce pain. This could include yoga and stretch. You may be able to benefit even if your legs are limited in mobility.
Set yourself up for success in exercise
Start by getting medical clearance to exercise with limited mobility, illness, weight problems. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about the best activities for you.
Talk to your doctor about exercising.
A physical therapist or doctor can help you choose the right exercise program. Ask:
- What amount of exercise can I do every day and week?
- What kind of exercise should you do?
- Which activities or exercises should I avoid?
- Do I need to take medication during my workouts?
Start an exercise program.
Take it slow and increase your activity gradually. Choose an activity you are passionate about, take your time, and make sure your goals are achievable. Even the smallest goals can help you build body confidence and keep your motivation high.
Exercise is a part of everyday life. Combine a variety of activities to prevent you from becoming bored.
Keep at it. A new activity can take about a month to become a routine. To keep yourself motivated, write down your reasons for exercising. Instead of focusing on long-term goals like weight loss or improving your mood, focus on short-term goals. Enjoying what you do makes it easier to stay motivated. While you exercise, listen to music or watch TV.
Be prepared for ups and downs. Do not be discouraged if your schedule is a little off. It happens. It’s possible to get back on track and build upon your momentum.
If you feel pain, discomfort or nausea, stop exercising. The best way to avoid injury is to listen to your body. For example, if you experience constant pain after exercising for 15 minutes, limit your exercise to five or ten minutes. Instead, exercise more often.
Do not exercise if you have been injured. You can also work on your lower body as the injury heals. After an injury is healed, you should slowly return to exercise using lighter weights and less resistance.
Warm-up, stretch and cool off. Start by moving around, such as arm swinging and walking, then move on to light stretching. Avoid deep stretches if your muscles are cold. Cool down after your workout, regardless of cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, or cardiovascular.
Get plenty of water. A well-hydrated body is the best.
Wear comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict movement.
Get more from your workouts.
Include a mindfulness component. You’ll feel more benefit from paying attention to your body than focusing on the screen. You can improve your physical condition by paying more attention to how your body feels when you exercise. For example, the rhythm of your breathing, the impact of your feet on the ground and your muscles tightening while you lift weights.
Exercise requires you to overcome your mental and emotional blocks.
You may experience emotional or mental barriers to exercise, in addition to the physical challenges. People often feel self-conscious about their weight, disability or injury and avoid exercising in public. Many older adults feel afraid of falling or injuring their bodies.
Do not focus on your mobility issues. Instead of dwelling on the things you cannot do, focus on what you can do.
The more difficult your physical challenges are, the more creative you will need to find an exercise program that suits you. You can still enjoy the benefits of jogging and cycling, but you may need to change your routine due to injury, disability, illness, or other reasons. It’s possible to find something that you love by doing some experimentation.
You should be proud of yourself for making an effort to exercise even though it may not be very successful initially. You will find it easier as you continue to practice.
Barriers to entry Suggestion
I am self-conscious about what my weight, disability, or injury is. You don’t need to exercise in a noisy gym. To avoid crowds, you can exercise early in the morning or skip the gym entirely. A personal trainer can come to your house or work with you in a private studio if you have the budget. You may feel less self-conscious by walking, swimming, and joining a group of people with similar physical limitations. You can also exercise at home at a very low cost.
I am afraid of injury. To avoid injury, choose low-risk activities such as chair-bound or walking.
I have trouble motivating myself. Ask your family and friends to help you reach your goals. Find a friend to go with you to the gym. You can encourage each other and make your workouts a social event.
I am not coordinated or athletic. You can choose to do easy exercise or require no skill, like walking, stationary biking, or aqua running (running in a pool).
Exercise is boring. Video games can be very entertaining. You can still exercise, but video games are great fun.
Exercise with an injury or disability
People with long-term injuries or disabilities tend to be less active, making it even more important to get out of bed and exercise regularly.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults with disabilities aim for:
- A minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity cardio activity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity cardiovascular exercise (or a combination thereof), each workout lasting at least 10 minutes.
- A minimum of two sessions per week of strength-training activities involve all major muscle groups, with moderate- to high-intensity.
If you cannot follow these guidelines due to a disability or injury, try to get active as often as possible and avoid inactivity if you can.
Exercises to treat upper-body injury, disability, or other conditions
Depending on your injury, disability and location, you may be able to walk or jog or use an elliptical or floatation aids depending on how severe it is. For cardiovascular exercise, you can use a stationary upright or recumbent bicycle.
Your injury or disability could limit your ability to use resistance bands or free weights for strength training. Or it may mean that you need to lower the resistance or weight. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to get around any injury or disability. You can also use exercise machines at a gym or a health club that focuses on the lower body.
A doctor may recommend isometric exercise to maintain or prevent muscle weakness or deterioration if you have joint problems such as arthritis or injury. You can push against immovable objects and other body parts without moving the joint or changing the length of the muscles.
Electro muscle stimulation
Electro muscle stimulation can improve blood circulation and range motion for those who have suffered muscle damage from injury, disability or prolonged immobilization. An electrical current is applied to the skin and gently contracts muscles.
How to use a wheelchair or a chair for an exercise
Chair-bound exercises can be beneficial for seniors, people with disabilities or lower body weight, as well as those who have suffered from falls or are overweight. Chair exercises that improve flexibility and posture can reduce back pain and help with cardiovascular and cardiovascular problems. Any chair exercise can also help to relieve sores from prolonged sitting. These are a great way for you to get in some exercise while watching TV.
- When seated, make sure your knees are at 90 degrees. Securely apply the brakes to immobilize the wheelchair if you are in it.
- To maintain good posture, sit tall and exercise.
- High blood pressure? Before you do any exercise, make sure to check it.
- If you are taking diabetes medication, test your blood sugar before and during exercise.
Cardiovascular exercise in a wheelchair or chair
If you do chair aerobics (a series of repetitive, seated movements), it will increase your heart rate and help to burn calories. It is also a great way to strengthen your muscles by increasing your speed and repeating the exercises many times. Any rapid repetitive movement can help to loosen stiff joints and offer aerobic benefits.
- You can wrap a lightweight resistance band underneath your chair, bed, or couch and do rapid resistance exercises such as chest presses. The timer should be one second up and two seconds down. Start with 20-30 reps of each exercise. As your endurance increases, you can increase the number and reps of the exercises and total time.
- Air-punching is a simple cardio exercise that can be done from a seated position. It can also be used with or without hand weights.
- Many pools and clubs have pool-therapy programs that are accessible to wheelchair users. A water aerobics class is a good option for those with limited leg function.
- Many gyms have wheelchair-training machines that allow arm-bicycling or rowing to be done. You can do a similar exercise at home by using portable pedal machines attached to a table.
Many organizations offer competitions and adaptive exercise programs for athletes such as weightlifting, track and field, volleyball and basketball.
You can do many traditional upper-body exercises from a seated position by using dumbbells, resistance bands, or any other weight that fits in your hand, like soup cans.
- Do shoulder presses, bicep curls and tricep extensions with heavier weights and greater resistance than you would for cardio exercises. Each exercise should be performed in two to three sets, each with 8-12 repetitions. As your strength increases, you can add weight and do more of the same exercises.
- You can attach resistance bands to furniture, doorknobs, and chairs. These can be used for pull-downs and shoulder rotations as well as arm and leg extension.
Stretching throughout the day is a great way to reduce pressure and pain from sitting for prolonged periods. You can increase your flexibility and range of motion by stretching while lying down or doing yoga or Tai Chi in a chair.
It is important to practice yoga and tai-chi correctly in group classes, with a private instructor, or even online.
Chair yoga and Tai Chi
Many yoga poses can easily be modified or adjusted to suit your needs, including age, weight, disability, and injury. If you have a disability or injury or a medical condition like arthritis, chronic obstructive lung disease, osteoporosis or multiple sclerosis, chair yoga is a great option. To improve flexibility, strength and relaxation, you can also do seated versions of Tai Chi exercises in a chair or wheelchair.
Exercise for diabetes or overweight
Exercise can help you lose weight and manage type 2 diabetes. Exercise can stabilize blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, and increase insulin sensitivity. If you are severely overweight, it can be difficult to begin an exercise program. It can be difficult to move or bend correctly due to your size. You may also have trouble finding the right equipment, even if you are comfortable exercising at a gym. Make sure you have access to weight benches and exercise machines that are able to accommodate larger persons when choosing a gym.
There are many options for health clubs, regardless of your size. It is a good idea to include more exercise in your daily life. Walking to the grocery store, cleaning up after the pets, and pacing while on the phone are all great ways to move. Even the smallest activities can add up quickly, especially if you combine them with short periods or scheduled exercise.
- Walking, dancing and climbing stairs are weight-bearing activities that use your body weight to resist. Begin with a short workout every day. Gradually increase the time. You can make fun activities by walking with your dog, dancing with friends, or climbing stairs to your favourite music.
- Non-weight bearing activities are recommended for those who experience pain in their feet and joints when standing. Aqua jogging, swimming, and water aerobics put less strain on your feet. You can find classes at your local YMCA, health club, or swim centre that allow you to exercise with larger people. Chair exercises are another non-weight bearing activity (see above).
- The portable pedal exerciser can be used while you are sitting comfortably in a chair at home, while you watch TV or under your desk at work.
- A lot of larger people find an exercise ball more comfortable than a bench. You can also do strength training exercises from a chair.
- You should carefully review the weight guidelines before you decide to purchase home exercise equipment. Also, make sure to try it out on your own to ensure that it fits properly.
- It’s crucial to maintain good posture while strength training at home. Ask a friend or relative for help or a personal trainer to review your form.
- Tai chi and gentle yoga are excellent ways to increase flexibility and posture. They also help reduce stress and anxiety.