If you do not have full mobility, you can still exercise and enjoy the health benefits that come with it. There are plenty of ways in which you can exercise if you have limited mobility either as a result of old age, weight problems, illness, injury, or disability. People who are confined to mobility scooters need to overcome their physical limitations and find appropriate ways to get active to improve their overall health.
During exercise, the body releases endorphins that energize the exerciser’s mood. Regardless of one’s age, physical condition, and whether or not they have exercised in the past, there are ways that you can exercise without having to worry about injuring yourself.
What types of exercise can I try out if I have limited mobility?
Generally, all types of exercise offer health benefits. See your doctor and have him help you figure out the best exercise routine. Find out what exercises you should do and those that you should avoid as well as how many hours of exercise you should have daily and weekly.
No matter what your physical situation is, you need to incorporate at least three types of exercise into your work out routines. But first, ensure that you:
- Maintain good posture- always sit upright
- Find a chair that allows you to keep your knees bent at 90°
- For safety purposes, always ensure that you apply brakes to your wheelchair or scooter
- If you suffer from diabetes or high blood sugar, take your diabetes medication as advised by the physician and check your blood pressure before and after your exercise.
- Cardiovascular exercises
This type of exercise raises your heart rate, increases your endurance, and burns your calories. Repetitive cardiovascular can also help loosen up stiff joints. For people with limited mobility, exercising in water is really beneficial since their body is supported and there is reduced risk of discomfort.
Even if you are confined to a mobility scooter, you can still perform cardiovascular exercise. If you cannot walk, cycle, or dance, you should try swimming, water aerobics, or aqua-jogging. There are quite a number of swimming pools that offer pool-therapy programs with access for people who are on wheelchairs.
Chair-bound exercises are a great way to alleviate body sores that are caused by sitting in the same position for long periods.
- Strength training exercises
Strength training involves the use of weights and other forms of resistance to build muscle and bone mass, prevent falls, and improve balance. Most of the traditional upper body exercises can be done from a seated position using anything that is weighted and fits well in your hands such as dumbbells.
You can focus on your upper body strength training if you have limited mobility in your legs. If you have, say a shoulder injury, you should focus on strength training your legs and core. There are gyms that offer machines which make arm-bicycling and rowing possible.
Heavier weights are used for strength training exercises than for cardio exercises. As your strength improves, add more weight and more exercise.
- Flexibility exercises
These types of exercises are aimed at enhancing your range of motion, reduce pain and stiffness, and prevent injury. Flexibility exercises include yoga, seated versions of Tai Chi, and stretching exercises. Stretching helps reduce pain and pressure on your muscles that often results from sitting for prolonged hours.
Flexibility exercises are really helpful in improving relaxation, enhancing flexibility, preventing and delaying muscle atrophy. Most of the flexibility exercises can be modified depending on your medical condition, age, weight, and physical mobility.
Starting the exercise routine
The first thing that you need before you set out on any exercise journey, especially if you have limited mobility, is to seek medical clearance. Talk to a physical therapist about the activities that are best suited for your situation.
Here are a few tips on how you should move forward with the exercise:
- Write down your reasons for exercising. Come up with a list of goals that you would like to achieve within a specified amount of time. In the beginning, you should focus on short-term goals rather than those that may take longer to achieve.
- Start slow and increase your activity levels gradually. Always start by doing something that you enjoy and go at your own pace. Make small steps that will keep you motivated.
- Try in as much as possible, to exercise on a daily basis. Plan to exercise at the same time every day- consistency yields results.
- Expect some difficulty in the beginning. Do not be discouraged if you find that some exercises are a bit challenging. Give yourself time to slowly build momentum
- Stop exercising immediately you start experiencing pain, irregular heartbeat, or any kind of discomfort. You should also avoid activity that involves the injured body part. After the injury has already healed, start back slowly.
- Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water during your exercise.
- Always ensure that you wear appropriate clothes that are well-fitting and don’t restrict movement.
- Lastly, always remember to start every workout with a warm-up and end it a cool down after your exercise routine.