Around 19 million people in the U.S. have mobility issues. Some may be temporary, such as getting into an accident and using a sling or a wheelchair while healing. Meanwhile, others’ are chronic issues, such as difficulty walking when they’re getting on in age.
Apart from the reason for your limited mobility, another concern you may have is how to stay active. Exercising can already be challenging for a person with full mobility, so it might be daunting to think about being active if you’ve just been to the wheelchair store and have limited use of an arm or your legs. But don’t let this challenge stop you. Exercise can help you and other people with limited mobility to:
- Maintain your muscle mass
- Increase your range of motion
- Improve your body’s coordination
- Avoid living a sedentary lifestyle
- Maintain your independence
Fortunately, you have plenty of options for exercise, even while you’re in a wheelchair or have some disability that prevents you from moving freely. Check them out below.
Do water aerobics.
If you have access to a pool, you can do aerobic exercises such as water walking. Water is almost a thousand times denser than air, which means it’s more challenging for the body to exercise when submerged in water. But it is also buoyant, which means it helps support your body’s weight. So when you do aerobic exercises in the pool, there’s less stress on your joints than if you’re exercising on the ground. The density of the water and how your body moves through it can also help strengthen your muscles.
Use resistance bands.
Resistance bands are one of the cheapest and most versatile fitness tools you can have, limited mobility or not. Using this can help improve your flexibility and build your muscle strength. If you have a shoulder injury, for example, you can rehab and avoid re-injuring it by wrapping resistance bands behind you like a shawl and pulling the ends toward your chest.
Do yoga from your wheelchair.
You might be familiar with yoga and how able-bodied people contort their bodies a hundred different ways. But even if you don’t have full mobility, yoga is doable. You can be sitting on your wheelchair and do the cat-cow stretch, which involves placing your hands on your knees, then alternating between arching your back and rolling your shoulders and head down. There are plenty more yoga positions for people with limited mobility that help keep your body flexible and your muscles working.
Use your chair to exercise.
If you’re using a wheelchair, it can be your best exercise equipment. You can do squats by standing in front of your chair and holding the top for support while bending your knees and pushing your hips backward. You can grab onto the arms of your chair and push yourself up while holding the seated position, an exercise that can help strengthen your arm muscles.
Don’t let limited mobility stop you from staying active and healthy or enjoying activities able-bodied people do. With these exercise ideas, you can strengthen your body instead of allowing it to atrophy because of your limited mobility.