“He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.”
Not only can spending hours in a wheelchair or bed be uncomfortable, but it also leads to weak muscles, joint and muscle stiffness, weight gain and weakened heart and lungs.
If you’re an individual experiencing a physical disability, you might find yourself caught in vicious cycle of limited mobility and decreased physical activity accompanied by weight gain.
The more weight you gain, the harder it becomes to exercise. The more inactive you become, the more weight you gain. And so the cycle goes, one that can be very frustrating and discouraging.
Being overweight is only one problem. Being overweight also greatly increases the risks for other health issues such as heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, cancer and sleep apnea. With this in mind, it’s very significant to find an exercise and healthy eating program that can help with your weight maintenance and/or weight loss.
While moving as much as possible is important for anyone with weak or disabled legs, how do you accomplish this when many exercises involve the use of functioning legs? Often times individuals who have lost functioning in the legs, arms or other parts of the body become discouraged, believe it is pointless or too difficult to exercise with their disabilities.
There are many ways those with physical impairments can still exercise and be more active:
• An arm cycle or arm ergo meter—a great way to get cardiovascular exercise for those in a wheelchair.
• Water exercise—if you have some leg function water aerobics classes will help improve your cardiovascular and strengthen your legs. If you do not have leg function there is still much you can do for cardio and stretching while using a belt, floating on a noodle or having a partner assist you in exercising the upper body and trunk.
• Chair exercises—Performing resistance exercises with an exercise band or light dumbbells will build bone and muscle strength. You can begin by wrapping your resistance band under your bed or chair to perform bicep curls, triceps extensions, front and side shoulder raises, and shoulder press exercises. Wrap a resistance band from around the back of your chair, grab the handles and push away from your chest to perform a chest press. To work the opposing muscle group wrap the band around a pole and pull the handles towards your body to work the back.
• To gain strength—focus on using a thicker resistance band or dumbbells that you can only lift 10 to 12 times .Perform two to three sets per exercise (resting 30 seconds between sets) three times a week with a day between workouts for muscle recovery.
• Workout videos—easy way to get some exercise by just following along with the routine.