How To Exercise With Limited Mobility
Exercises for people in wheelchairs and fitness tips for people with injuries or disabilities You do not need to have total mobility to experience the health benefits of exercise. If injury, disability, illness, or weight problems have limited your mobility, there are still many ways to use exercise to increase your mood, relieve depression , relieve stress and anxiety, boost your self-esteem, and improve your overall vision of life. While there are more challenges for people with mobility issues, taking a creative approach, you can overcome any physical limitations and find fun ways to move around and improve your health and well-being.

Limited mobility does not mean you can not exercise
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that boost your mood, relieve stress, boost self-esteem, and trigger a general sense of well-being. If you are a regular exerciser currently away with an injury, you probably noticed how the inactivity caused a drop in your mood and energy levels. This is understandable: exercise has such a powerful effect on mood that it can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. However, an injury does not mean that your mental and emotional health is doomed to lower. While some injuries respond best with total rest, most simply require that you reevaluate your exercise routine with the help of your physician or physical therapist.

If you have a disability, serious weight problem, chronic breathing condition, diabetes, arthritis or other ongoing illness, you may think that your health problems make it impossible for you to exercise effectively. Or maybe you have become fragile with age and are worried about falling or injuring yourself if you try to exercise. The truth is, regardless of your age, current physical condition and whether you have exercised in the past or not, there are many ways to overcome your mobility problems and reap the physical, mental and emotional benefits of exercise.

What types of exercise are possible with limited mobility?
It is important to remember that any type of exercise will offer health benefits. Mobility issues make some types of exercise easier than others, but no matter your physical situation, you should try to incorporate three different types of exercises into your routines:

Cardiovascular exercises that increase heart rate and increase endurance. These may include walking, jogging, cycling, dancing, tennis, swimming, water aerobics or “lessons”. Many people with mobility problems find that exercising in water is especially beneficial as it supports the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort. Even if you are confined to a chair or wheelchair, it is still possible to perform cardiovascular exercises.

The exercises strength training involve the use of weights or other resistance to build muscle and bone mass, improve balance and prevent falls. If you have limited mobility in your legs, your focus will be on upper body strength training. Similarly, if you have a shoulder injury for example, your focus will be more on strength training of your legs and core.

Flexibility exercises help improve your range of motion, prevent injury, and reduce pain and stiffness. These may include stretching exercises and yoga. Even if you have limited mobility in your legs, for example, you can still benefit from stretches and flexibility exercises to prevent or delay additional muscle atrophy.

Preparing for Exercise Success
To successfully exercise while you have limited mobility, illness, or weight problems, begin by obtaining medical authorization. Talk to your doctor, physiotherapist, or other health care professional about activities that are appropriate for your medical condition or mobility problem.

Talking to your doctor about exercise
Your doctor or physical therapist can help you find a proper exercise routine. Ask:

How much exercise can I do each day and every week?
What kind of exercise should I do?
What exercises or activities should I avoid?
Should I take medication at any given time around my exercise routine?
Starting an Exercise Routine
Start slowly and gradually increase your activity level. Start with an activity you like, go at your own pace and keep your goals manageable. Performing even the smallest fitness goals will help you gain bodily confidence and keep you motivated.

Make exercise part of your daily life. Plan to exercise at the same time every day and combine a variety of exercises to avoid boredom.

Remember this. It takes about a month for a new activity to become a habit. Write down your reasons for the exercise and a list of goals and post them somewhere visible to keep you motivated. Focus on short-term goals such as improving your mood and reducing stress, rather than goals such as weight loss, which may take longer to achieve. It’s easier to stay motivated if you like what you’re doing, so look for ways to have fun. Listen to music or watch a TV show while exercising or exercising with friends.

Expect ups and downs. Do not be discouraged if you skip a few days or even a few weeks. It happens. Just start over and slowly build up on your old drive.

Stay Safe While Exercising
Stop exercising if you feel pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath or moist hands. Listening to your body is the best way to avoid injury. If you suffer pain continuously after 15 minutes of exercise, for example, limit your workouts to 5 or 10 minutes and instead stay more often.

Avoid activity involving a sore body part. If you have a lesion on the upper body, exercise the lower body while the lesion heals and vice versa. When exercising after an injury heals, slowly restart, using lighter weights and less resistance

Heat, stretch and cool. Warm up with a few minutes of light activity, such as walking, swinging your arms and shoulder rolls, followed by some light stretching (avoid deep stretches when your muscles are cold). After your exercise routine, be it cardiovascular, strength training or flexibility exercises, cool down with a few more minutes of light activity and deeper stretches.

Drink plenty of water. Your body works best when properly hydrated.

Wear appropriate clothing such as supportive footwear and comfortable clothing that will not restrict your movement.

Getting more out of your workouts
Add a mindfulness element. Whether you are exercising in a chair or walking out, you will experience a greater benefit if you pay attention to your body instead of thinking about other things. By actually focusing on how your body feels as you exercise — the pace of your breathing, your feet reaching the ground, your muscles tightening when lifting weights, for example — you will not only improve your physical condition faster, but you may also experience greater benefits for your mood and sense of well-being.

Overcoming Mental and Emotional Barriers to Exercise
In addition to the physical challenges you face, you may also face mental or emotional barriers to exercise. It is common for people to feel self-conscious about their weight, disability, illness or injury and who wish to avoid working in public places. Some older people think they are afraid of falling or otherwise injuring themselves.

Do not focus on your mobility or health problem . Instead of worrying about activities you can not enjoy, focus on finding activities that you can.

The more physical challenges you face, the more creative you will need to find an exercise routine that works for you. If you enjoyed running or cycling, for example, but injuries, disabilities or illnesses mean you are no longer a choice, be prepared to try new exercises. With some experiences, it is quite possible that you find something that you enjoy so much.

Be proud when you make the effort to exercise , even if it is not very successful at first. It will become easier the more you practice.

Barrier to exerciseSuggestionI am self-conscious about my weight, injury or disability.Exercise does not have to mean training in a crowded gym. You can try exercising early in the morning to avoid the crowds, or skip the gym altogether. If you can afford it, a personal trainer will come to your home or workout with you in a private studio. Walking, swimming, or exercising in a class with others who have similar physical limitations may make you feel less conscious. There are also many inexpensive forms of private exercise at home.I’m afraid of an injury.Choose low-risk activities such as walking or chair exercises, and proper heating and cooling to avoid muscle injuries and other injuries.I can not motivate myself.Explain your exercise goals to friends and family and ask them to support and encourage you. Better yet, find a friend to exercise. You can motivate yourself and turn your workouts into a social event.I’m not coordinated or athletic.Choose exercises that requires little or no skill like walking, cycling on a stationary bike or aquajogging (running in a pool).Exercise is boring.But video games are fun. If traditional exercise is not for you, try playing video games based on activities known as “exergames”. Games that simulate bowling, tennis or boxing, for example, can be played sitting in a chair or wheelchair and are fun ways to burn calories and raise your heart rate, alone or playing with friends.

How to exercise with an injury or disability
Since people with disabilities or long-term injuries tend to live less active lifestyles, it may be even more important for you to exercise regularly.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, adults with disabilities should aim to:

At least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous intensity cardiovascular activity (or a combination of both) with each workout lasting at least 10 minutes.
Two or more sessions per week of moderate or high intensity strength training activities involving all major muscle groups.
If your disability or injury makes it impossible to comply with these guidelines, try to engage in regular physical activities according to your abilities and avoid inactivity whenever possible.

Training for upper body injury or disability
Depending on the location and nature of your injury or disability, you can still walk, run, use an elliptical machine, or even swim using flotation aids. Otherwise, try using a stationary or recumbent bike for cardiovascular exercise.

When it comes to strength training, your injury or disability may limit the use of free weights and resistance bands, or it may mean that you have to reduce the weight or level of resistance. Consult your doctor or physiotherapist for safe ways to work around the injury or disability and use exercise machines at a health club or gym, especially those that focus on the lower body.

Isometric Exercises
If you have arthritic joint problems or an injury, for example, a doctor or physiotherapist may recommend isometric exercises to help maintain muscle strength or prevent further muscle deterioration. Isometric exercises require you to push against motionless objects or another part of the body without changing muscle length or moving the joint.

Electrolyte Muscle Stimulation
If you have suffered muscle loss from an injury, disability or long period of immobility, electro-muscular stimulation can be used to increase blood circulation and range of motion in a muscle. The muscles are slightly contracted using electrical current transmitted through electrodes placed on the skin.

How to Exercise in a Wheelchair or Wheelchair
The exercises in the chair are ideal for people with lower body injuries or deficiencies, with weight problems or diabetes, and frail older people looking to reduce their risk of falls. Cardiovascular and chair flexibility exercises can help improve posture and reduce back pain, while any chair exercise can help alleviate wounds caused by sitting in the same position for long periods. They are also a great way to squeeze a workout while you’re watching TV.

If possible, choose a chair that will allow you to keep your knees at 90 degrees when sitting. If you are in a wheelchair, securely apply the brakes or motionless the chair.
Try to sit up while exercising and use your sit-ups to maintain good posture.
If you suffer from high blood pressure , check your blood pressure before exercising and avoid chair exercises involving weights.
Test your blood sugar before and after exercise if you take medication for diabetes that can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar).
Cardiovascular exercise in a chair or wheelchair
Chair aerobics, a series of repetitive sitting movements, will increase your heart rate and help you burn calories, as well as many strength training exercises when performed at a fast pace with a high number of repetitions. In fact, any quick and repetitive movement offers aerobic benefits and can also help loosen stiff joints.

Wrap a light resistance band under your chair (or bed or sofa, even) and perform quick-resistance exercises, such as box presses, for a count of one second and two seconds down. Try several different exercises to get started with 20 to 30 reps per exercise, and gradually increase the number of exercises, reps, and total workout time as your endurance improves.
The simple air cut, with or without hand weights, is an easy cardio exercise from a sitting position, and can be fun while playing along with a Nintendo Wii or Xbox 360 video game.
Many pools and gym clubs offer pool therapy programs with access for wheelchair users. If you have any leg function, try an aqua aerobics class.
Some centers offer wheelchair training machines that enable arm and paddle. For a similar workout at home, some portable pedal machines can be used with your hands when protected at a table in front of you.
Wheelchair Sports
If you want to add competition to your workouts, several organizations offer adaptive exercise programs and competitions for sports like basketball, track and field, volleyball and weightlifting.

Strength Training
Many traditional upper body exercises can be done from a sitting position using dumbbells, sturdy bands, or anything that is weighted and fits in your hands like soup cans.

Perform exercises such as shoulder presses, bicep curves, and triceps extensions using heavier weights and more endurance than for cardio workouts. Aim for two or three sets of 8 to 12 reps for each workout, adding weight and more workouts as your strength improves.
Resistance bands can be attached to furniture, a door knob or your chair. Use these for pull-downs, shoulder rotations and extensions of arms and legs.
Flexibility exercise
If you are in a wheelchair or have limited mobility in your legs, stretching throughout the day can help reduce the pain and pressure on your muscles, which often accompanies the session for long periods. Stretching while lying down or practicing yoga or Tai Chi in a chair can also help increase flexibility and improve your range of motion.

To ensure that yoga or Tai Chi is practiced properly, it is best to learn, participate in group classes, hire a tutor or at least follow video instructions.

Yoga and Tai Chi Chair
Most yoga poses can be modified or adapted depending on your physical mobility, weight, age, medical condition and any injury or disability. Yoga chair is ideal if you have a disability, injury or a medical condition like arthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, osteoporosis or multiple sclerosis. Similarly, sitting versions of Tai Chi exercises can also be practiced in a chair or wheelchair to improve flexibility, strength and relaxation.

Trainings for overweight people and people with diabetes
Exercise can play a vital role in reducing weight and managing type 2 diabetes . It can stabilize blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity, lower blood pressure and slow the progression of neuropathy. But it can be scary to start an exercise routine if you are overweight. Its size can make it difficult to bend or move properly and even if you feel comfortable working out in a gym, you may have trouble finding suitable equipment. When choosing a gym, make sure it offers exercise machines and weight benches that can support larger people.

Whatever your size, there are many alternatives to health clubs. A good first step to exercise is to incorporate more activity into your everyday life. Gardening, walking to the store, washing the car, sweeping the patio or strolling while talking on the phone are easy ways to move. Even small activities can add up over a day, especially when you combine with short periods of scheduled workouts.

Cardiovascular exercises
Activities that carry your weight, such as walking, dancing, and climbing stairs, use your own body weight as resistance. Start with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase training times. Do the most enjoyable activities by walking with a dog, dancing with a friend or climbing stairs for your favorite song.
If you feel pain in your feet or joints when standing still, try activities that do not involve weight. Water activities, such as swimming, aquajogging or water aerobics, put less stress on your feet and joints. Look for special classes at your local health center, gym or swimming center where you can exercise with other larger people. Other activities that do not involve weight include chair exercises (see above).
A portable pedal exerciser is a simple device that you can use while sitting in any comfortable chair at home while watching TV — or even at your desk at work.
Strength Training
Many older people find that using an exercise ball is more comfortable than a weight bench. Or you can perform simple strength training exercises on a chair.
If you choose to invest in home exercise equipment, check the weight guidelines and, if possible, try the equipment first to make sure it is a comfortable fit.
While at home strength training, it is important to ensure that you maintain a good posture and perform each exercise properly. Schedule a session with a personal trainer or ask an experienced or family friend to verify your form.
Flexibility exercises
Soft yoga or tai chi are great ways to improve flexibility and posture, and reduce stress and anxiety. For more info please check out and

Author's Bio: 

Eric is the owner of EPT