By Jane Sandwood
Government statistics show 25.6% of persons with a disability reported being physically inactive during a usual week.
Regular exercise is essential for heart health, muscle strength, controlling joint pain, and maintaining a healthy weight. Although exercising with mobility issues may seem daunting, it’s possible for you to overcome any physical limitations and enjoy an active, healthy life. With a little determination and creativity, you can make exercise a part of your every day routine. Here are some simple home exercises to get you started.
Always warm up before exercising to prevent injury. Try walking in place and doing shoulder rolls and arm and leg circles and lifts. Focus on getting your body loose and ready to move. Warm up with light stretches and save deeper stretches for your cool down. After exercise, do some simple arm and leg stretches to bring your heart rate down and help your muscles recover.
Avoid exercising injured muscles. Exercise shouldn’t hurt, so make sure to reduce your range of motion or stop if it’s still uncomfortable. If you’re unsure, your doctor can advise on whether an exercise is safe to perform. It’s also important you’re well-hydrated before beginning exercise and to take small sips of water when needed throughout your workout.
Chair aerobics is a great way to get cardio in at home. Start with just a few minutes each day and gradually build up your stamina until you’re getting 150 minutes per week.Try a dance workout: put on some high-energy music, sit on a chair, and get dancing! Wave your arms about, tap your feet, and wiggle around in your seat. Move as much of your body as possible. Use wrist and/or ankle weights for an extra challenge.
Alternately, clear some room in your home and sit down in a wheelchair (or a chair with casters). Use your arms and/or legs to propel yourself around. This exercise activity is more fun if you put your favorite music on in the background.
Hula-hooping is a simple and fun way to get your heart rate up and strengthen your arms. Get a hula hoop and raise your arms above your head. Press your hands together with your hula hoop in between. Twirl the hoop around your hands in small circles.
Make it your goal to roll the hoop above head for at least one minute. You can also roll the hoop for thirty seconds in one hand at a time. Again, putting on some music can make this exercise more enjoyable.
Single Arm Circles
Get a hula hoop and extend your right arm straight out to the side. Keep it at shoulder level. Put the hula hoop over your arm, so it sits somewhere between the wrist and elbow. Alternatively, you can hold the hoop in your hand. Start moving your arm in a small circular motion. Go clockwise for thirty seconds and then anticlockwise for thirty seconds. Repeat this exercise for the same duration of circles with your left arm.
Strength training builds muscle and improves flexibility and balance which minimizes risk of injury as you age. Studies also show strength training slows bone loss and protects against osteoporosis.
Get a resistance band and wrap it around the back of a chair. Sit down, hold the band at both ends, and pull it under your armpits. Sit up straight, engage your abs, and push your arms straight out at shoulder level. Be slow and controlled to avoid locking your joints. Return the arms to starting position. Repeat for fifteen reps.
Bicep Curls and Shoulder Press
You can strengthen your arms and shoulders with dumbbells. Grab a pair of light free weights appropriate for your current strength levels. Beginners may find five pound free weights ideal and you can gradually increase the weight as you get stronger. Sit up straight in your chair. Pay attention to your posture and make sure your shoulders are down and abs engaged. Hold a freeweight in each hand.
With palms facing forward, slowly bend your arms at the elbow and lift the weights toward your chest. Exhale as you lift the weights and exhale as your lower. Focus on working your bicep muscle while making sure your elbows don’t flare out from your sides. Complete ten to fifteen repetitions.
To do the shoulder press, sit up straight, and hold the weights up next to your ears. Press the weights overhead (so your arms resemble goal posts) and lower back down. Repeat for ten reps.
Remember it’s okay to start slow at the beginning of your fitness journey. Begin with a few minutes of exercise every day and gradually increase your sessions. It’s also important you adapt exercises to suit your abilities. Focus on making exercise a habit and you’ll strengthen your heart while improving your flexibility and mobility.
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