How to Exercise with Limited Mobility

June 26, 2013

By Emily Buchanan

Exercise with Limited MobilityIf injury, disability or age have affected your mobility, exercise is more important than ever. Whilst it’s easy to overlook the everyday activities that full mobility allows, be that a brisk walk to the corner shop or a good spring clean, these tasks can be hugely beneficial to an individual’s health and general wellbeing. After all, think of all the endorphins that are released during exercise. These hormones are the body’s opioids, lifting the mood, boosting self-esteem and triggering a sense of euphoria.

Depression is common in people who suffer from mobility issues. The daily battle between a flawed body and an unflawed mind can be maddening so it’s very important to address a low mood quickly, before it escalates. And what better way to stay in shape and improve your disposition than to exercise?

But, if you have a disability, a severe weight problem, a chronic breathing condition or any other ongoing health problem that might limit your movements, what’s the best way to keep active?

First things first, don’t push yourself to achieve the impossible. You need to accept what your body is capable of and exercise accordingly. Any attempts to do otherwise could result in serious injury, worsening the situation and perhaps reducing your mobility even further. Therefore, be sensible and consult your doctor before you try any of the following, particularly if you’ve been recently diagnosed or are unsure of your condition.

Simple Chair Exercises

If you’re suffering from a lower body injury or a disability that requires full-time wheelchair use, chair exercises are ideal. However, they are by no means exclusive to wheelchair-users. If you’re overweight, diabetic or trying to improve your confidence after a nasty fall, these tips might also be useful. These chair exercises can help reduce back pain, improve posture and alleviate sores. What’s more, you can do it whilst watching the television!

TIP: If you don’t already own one, choose a wheelchair that keeps your knees at a right angle when seated. If buying a new or second-hand wheelchair, it’s a good idea to insure it against damage, just in case something should happen whilst operating it. To make sure that it doesn’t, always, always apply the brakes when exercising.

Exercise Video for People with Intellectual or Physical Disabilities

For a more intensive workout, check out this 11 minute Cardio Chair Session.

Aquatic Workouts

The amazing thing about exercising in water is that it’s low-impact, low-cost and highly effective. If you suffer from joint pain, arthritis or swelling in the legs and ankles, a dip in the pool will cushion fragile bones. Plus, swimming is particularly forgiving to those who are overweight – the average person only bears 10% of their overall weight when submerged up to the neck in water. There are so many exercises that can be done, including water aerobics, resistance running, treading water and of course the traditional swimming of laps.

TIP: Be sure to invest in a good pair of goggles and a swimming costume that you’re comfortable in. For a lot of people, one of the main drawbacks of regular swimming is the distinct lack of clothes that it requires. However, these days there’s a huge variety of figure appropriate items for sale, so don’t feel like you have to wear something you don’t want to.

3 Aquatic Cardio Exercises

Adaptive Yoga

Anyone familiar with yoga will be aware of the flexibility and balance this type of exercise requires. If you have limited mobility or use a wheelchair fulltime, yoga might seem like an impossible task. However, the proliferation of adaptive yoga classes (also known was Whoga – wheelchair yoga) has meant that specialist groups are popping up all over the place, particularly in and around cities. Provided you have the means to get there, these classes can improve agility, strength, poise, and stamina. In addition, many people who practice yoga say that it reduces anxiety and stress, improves mental clarity, and even helps them sleep better.

Yoga can be beneficial for individuals with disabilities or chronic health conditions through both the physical postures and breathing. What’s more, each pose can be modified or adapted to meet the needs of the individual and a trained teacher will show you how to make the most of your condition.

Alternatively, if there isn’t an adaptive yoga class near you, why not try these simple stretches at home?

TIP: For a more comprehensive understanding of breathing techniques, check out this video before attempting any yoga moves. Proper breathing practices are as -if not more- important than the exercise itself, so it’s good to get this down before you start attempting the downward facing dog.

About the Author: Emily Buchanan is a writer living in Norwich, UK. She’s passionate about the environment, education and disability rights, which are the subjects you’ll find her mostly writing/ranting about. Follow Emily on Twitter for the latest.

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