How to get started on safely exercising with low mobility and tips to plan for successful exercise results
Exercise is well known to help relieve stress, boost self-esteem and reduce the risk of certain diseases along with maintaining fitness levels. When we exercise, our bodies release chemicals such as endorphins, dopamine and adrenaline that lift our moods. By getting creative with your exercise, you can overcome physical barriers and find a fun exercise routine to fit your interests and limited mobility.
Whatever level of physical activity you’re capable of, doing the best workout you can and keeping up with your exercise routine is one of the greatest ways to promote good physical and mental wellbeing.
ConnectAbility has put together an easy guide to exercising with limited mobility, so you can achieve a long-term goal to get fitter, or simply keep active and maintain your current mobility. Be sure to click on the Hyperlinks to take you to extra information on a topic!
What types of exercise are possible with limited mobility?
Many people with limited mobility do not have access to well-equipped gyms or may have difficulty leaving the house. When it comes to finding success with a fitness routine, some creativity may be needed. While there are plenty of at-home workouts available to watch online, very few accommodate the needs of those with limited mobility issues.
However, there are still many exercises you can do, even if you have a condition that makes movement difficult or you need to work out from the comfort of your chair. Everything from seated exercises through to outdoor fitness all have something to offer to those with limited mobility.
When planning your exercise routine, it’s good to combine strength, cardiovascular and stretching into your workout. It’s also important not to overdo your physical activity, especially if you are just beginning your fitness journey. Finding an activity that you enjoy doing gives you a better chance of continuing with your fitness plan. If you are finding self-motivation difficult, finding a fitness partner to work out with can be a huge help.
Working on your major muscle groups
Ankles, knees and hips: These muscles are used for walking and standing. By strengthening your ankle, knee and hip muscles first, you will increase your stability and balance.
Abdominals: Your abdominals are used for core stability, balance, posture and general mobility.
Chest, back, arms and shoulders: These muscle groups assist with tasks that involve pushing, pulling and carrying, arm balance for walking, spinal posture and reducing the impact of a fall. For some example exercises click here.
Three exercises for those with limited mobility:
1. Workout in the water
Exercising in water can make movement easier and give your body a gentle workout by limiting the impacts of gravity. Not only do water exercises lessen the pain for those with conditions such as arthritis or muscle strains, but it is also recommended for people with severe disabilities and high blood pressure.
Even if you are not able to take part in a full water aerobics class or swim laps of the pool, there are simple exercises you can do that will work out your body. Taking a brisk walk around the edge of the pool is an option or performing cross-body punches the water. You may want to consider buying a buoyancy aid, such as a water belt, to take some of your weight off the pool floor and lessen pressure on your joints.
2. Stretch your body, focus your mind
Although it may seem like an intimidating workout, Pilates and yoga offer the perfect workout for those with disabilities and physical limitations.
Pilates and yoga build core body strength through stretching and slow movements. Both activities are popular options for exercising with limited mobility because they can be done standing up or sitting on the floor.
Pilates and yoga breathing exercises tone and strengthen the abdominal muscles which are beneficial for those who have limited mobility or use a wheelchair and rely on good posture for comfort. As well as the above benefits, Pilates and yoga also increase flexibility. Both are good forms of exercise for people with arthritis or other conditions that cause stiffness or prevent a normal range of movement.
3. Chair-based workouts
Chair-based exercises are beneficial for relieving back pain, maintaining good posture and reducing sores from sitting down for long periods. If you’re a wheelchair user, keeping your body active will bring important benefits to your health.
Boxing has always been a great sport to get the heart rate up, and chair boxing is no exception. By using the same moves that boxers use in the boxing ring, you can stimulate your arm muscles and core to help strengthen your shoulders, upper back, triceps and biceps.
You will also gain flexibility and loosening up tighter areas in your back and neck that are often problem areas for those with limited mobility. As well as the physical benefits that boxing has to offer, chair boxing teaches defence tactics, body confidence and control.
Don’t let limited mobility limit you
It may sound like a cliché, but having faith in your ability is the first step to accomplishing your fitness goals. Fitness takes time, so be patient with your routine and with yourself. Remember to listen to your body and rest when you need to so you don’t overwork your muscles.
To help you get in the right mind-set and keep a positive outlook on your fitness routine, there are some guidelines you should follow:
Establish a routine
Your exercise goals will be much easier to achieve when you establish a routine. By planning your weekly fitness plans around your other obligations, you will be more likely to avoid excuses not to do it.
In order to exercise safely and properly, start slowly. No one is expecting you to train like a professional athlete, so ease yourself into your new workout routine. It may be challenging at the beginning but as your body builds up strength, it will get easier and more enjoyable.
It’s always a good idea to warm up for a minimum of 5 minutes before you exercise. By stretching out the different muscle groups that you are going to be using in your workout, you can prepare your body for exercise.
Proper nutrition is just as important for maintaining health as exercise. When exercising, it’s essential to keep your diet as healthy as possible to ensure that you are getting the right amount of nutrients to assist your body with the recovery process following a workout.
Focus on the benefits
Doing some form of physical exercise is important for strengthening your body and maintaining a healthy weight, building bone density, gaining muscle strength, reducing surgical risks and strengthening the immune system.
Listen to the experts
By discussing exercise with a professional you can get information about the best routines for you while also giving yourself peace of mind that your body is capable of doing it. Every person’s body and physical needs are unique, so routines that may work for some with limited mobility may not be right for you. Your healthcare professional may also know of local classes that you haven’t heard about.
Final thoughts on exercising with limited mobility
Having limited mobility can make exercising more difficult, and it can certainly make us feel a little down and depressed sometimes. One of the most important aspects of getting regular exercise is its positive impact on our mental health, and by extension – our lives. When we move our bodies regularly, we’re reminding ourselves that we can do it. Quite aside from the physical benefits of exercise, just knowing that we’re in control and capable of moving – even in a limited fashion – is a pure joy that many take for granted. Those with limited mobility know that movement is a gift, and the team at ConnectAbility is passionate about connecting our clients to great ideas and classes.