Staying Active with Limited Mobility
We all know that diet and exercise are vital elements of good health. No matter what the current “fad diet” is, or how advanced video games become, health care professionals still agree that maintaining a balanced diet and participating in a safe and productive exercise routine give you the best chance of being physically and mentally healthy.
While this is pretty much universally known, however, it is not universally practiced. For some it is a matter of laziness, but for others, regular exercise is just not in the cards. Individuals with limited mobility often find it difficult to keep up with the physical demands of everyday life, much less a strenuous exercise routine.
But limited mobility does not equal limited ability! There are plenty of things that physically limited individuals can do to stay mentally and physically fit. Sure, solving this problem may take some creativity, but it will be more than worth it in the end! Here are some ideas to get you started on your way towards a more healthy lifestyle – and none of them require a treadmill or elliptical machine.
It’s simple, it’s free, it’s versatile, and it’s beneficial. Walking is the low-impact exercise that will help you stay active with minimal effort. Whether you’re able to throw on your windbreaker and venture around the block, or you can’t do much more than a couple trips to the kitchen in your slippers, walking whenever possible will help you get some great exercise.
If you use a wheelchair, but are able to walk occasionally, do so whenever possible. Make sure you do not wear yourself out – stop and rest when you feel tired or have any kind of pain. And if you are strictly bound to your chair, don’t fret – there are still ways for you to stay fit!
Work your arms
Arm exercises can be done while sitting and are easily adaptable to accommodate different ability levels. Here are some simple arm exercises for you to try:
- Hold your arms straight out in front of you, or straight out to your sides. Make small circles with your arms to work your arm muscles. Add light dumbbell weights, or hang lightweight rings around your arms (think diving rings) to add more resistance, if you can!
- Use dumbbell weights and do traditional bicep curls. Hold the weight firmly in your hands, and keep your elbows at your waist. Your hands will be at your side if you’re standing, or in your lap if you’re sitting. Keeping your elbows at your waist, bring the weight up to your shoulder or chest and then slowly lower it again. Start doing only 5-6 at a time, and work up to 10-12 at a time when you’re ready.
Stretching is very good for your body. It can keep you flexible, which can in turn help prevent injury and increase your mobility. Here are some simple stretches to get you started:
- Stretch your arms by reaching as high up as you can, one arm at a time.
- Stretch your arms by reaching across your body. Cross your right arm across your body, reaching out to your left side. Grab your right elbow with your left hand to help maintain the stretch. Then reverse the stretch to stretch your left arm.
- Stretch your neck muscles by lowering your chin to your chest and then slowly rolling your head from shoulder to shoulder.
- Stretch your legs by sitting comfortably, lifting one leg, pointing your toes, and then flexing them. Repeat three times, and then switch legs.
Believe it or not, even people with limited mobility can dance! This includes those who are confined to a wheelchair or even bed rest. All you need is a little music and a willingness to move. Turn on the music and wiggle whatever you can – fingers, hands, arms, hips, legs, feet, and head. Tap to the beat, or forget about the beat and just move! Any kind of movement will help you increase strength and mobility. Have fun with this one!
When exercising, it’s most important that you stay safe. Talk to your doctor about possible exercises you might try to keep yourself active. Find activities you enjoy, and stick to them. Remember – staying active will help increase your mobility, improve your mood, and keep you feeling your best!