Spending long hours sitting in a wheelchair or in a bed can not only be uncomfortable, but can also lead to weight gain, weakened muscles, joint and muscle stiffness and weakened heart and lungs. Thus, moving as much as possible is very important for anyone with disabled or weak legs. This is easier said than done, because quite a few exercises, particularly aerobic exercises, involve the use of functioning legs. However, you must remember that you have a greater amount of muscle in your trunk and arms than you do in your legs! Therefore, you can design your personal exercise program to focus on working these muscles to reap the benefits of an exercise program.
Boxing and Video Games
Make a fist and start swinging to burn calories and raise your heart rate. Purchase a boxing DVD, a mobile punching bag or imagine yourself as a boxing great and punch thin air to cash in 390 calories per hour, according to HealthStatus.com. Another option is to purchase an interactive video game system, such as Nintendo Wii. The Wii includes many games such as boxing, tennis, baseball and bowling that are sure to keep you active.
Swimming and Water Aerobics
Swimming is an excellent exercise to perform if you have access to a pool. Always swim with a partner that can assist you. To swim, have your partner hold your legs while you propel yourself forward with your arms. Use a snorkel if you are not comfortable with holding your breath. If you have some leg function, a water aerobics class will improve your cardiovascular system and may help strengthen your legs.
Aerobic Resistance Training
Performing lightweight resistance training at a fast pace is the perfect substitute for cardiovascular exercise. These exercises will increase your heart rate and loosen up stiff joints.
Purchase a lightweight resistance band and perform resistance exercises at a fast “one second up, one second down” pace. Choose a resistance that will allow you to perform 40 to 50 repetitions per set. Perform two to three sets per exercise. Limit your rest between sets to less than 1 minute and increase your resistance as you become more efficient.
To begin, wrap your resistance band under your chair or bed to perform bicep curls, tricep extensions, front shoulder raise, side shoulder raise, and shoulder press exercises. Wrap a resistance band around the back of your chair, grab the handles and push away from your chest to perform a chest press. Wrap the band around a pole and pull the handles towards your body to work your back muscles. It should take about 30 minutes to perform these exercises.
Strength Resistance Training
Muscular strength is just as important as aerobic strength, especially if you are relying on your upper body to help you get around. To gain strength, you can perform the same exercises listed in the “aerobic resistance training” section. Instead of a fast pace and high repetition workout, focus on using a thicker resistance band or a dumbbell that you can only lift 10 to 12 times. Perform two to three sets per exercise and allow yourself one to three minutes of rest between sets. Only perform strength exercises three times a week, with a day off between workouts.
– Perform aerobic exercises five days a week. You can perform back-to-back days of aerobic resistance training.
– Always make sure you discuss your exercise plans with your doctor.
– Make healthy food choices to properly manage your caloric intake.
– Participate in organized disability sports, such as basketball, racing or fencing.