Exercising with Disabilities: It’s Possible


It is a common belief that people with disabilities and limited mobility don’t move around much, and while this can be true, it is of utmost importance that they get as much physical activity as possible.


Health benefits of exercising are many, and they include mental and emotional benefits which are very important for people with disabilities: exercising provides an energy boost, relieves stress and anxiety, improves general outlook on life and motivates, eases depression and enhances self-esteem regarding living with disability.

It’s possible and there are plenty of options:

Not only is exercising with disabilities possible, it is becoming more common and nowadays we have the Paralympic Games – where many sportsmen and sportswomen with disabilities compete. You don’t need to go that far, but taking up exercise is definitely possible. Most sports and physical activities have versions adapted to people with limited mobility, like wheelchair basketball and table tennis, even things like sledge hockey and downhill skiing, but especially exercises modalities like yoga and Tai Chi. There are plenty of options.

Consult your doctor

Before you start exercising though, you should get medical clearance: consult your doctor or any other health care provider with recognized diploma of disability about all the physical activities suitable for your medical condition. If they don’t have any suggestions about your recommended exercise plan, ask what type of exercise would be good for you, how much you could do per day or week, what activities you should avoid and if you should adjust your routines around taking your medication and your eating habits. This will help you get a better idea of what you could do.

Start slowly

Once you’ve chosen your activities and sports, start slowly. Don’t push yourself, and expect to experience ups and downs until you get in the habit of exercising regularly. If you experience pain, stop exercising. Avoid using injured parts of your body and most of all, warm up and stretch before you begin, you want to avoid any further injuries.

Be well prepared

Get informed and educated about working out. There are books and other educational materials, and even courses at local community colleges. There you can get a very useful diploma of disability if you want to go deeper. It is a good idea to connect with other people with limited abilities and even form a group and exercise together, support each other and socialize.

Types of exercises

There are basically three types of exercises that you can do: cardiovascular, strength and flexibility exercises. Depending on your condition, some may be more difficult to do than others. But you should aim to incorporate a balanced plan of all three types into your workout regime.

Cardiovascular exercises raise the heart rate, increase lung capacity and improve blood flow. These exercises include cycling, swimming, walking, hiking, running and playing tennis or table tennis.

Strength exercises involve using weights to build muscle strength. They can target specific parts of the body so they are easily adaptable to people with disabilities. You can focus on the upper part of the body or on the legs only.

Flexibility exercises work on improving muscle and joint motion, reducing pain and stiffness.

Remember that your attitude is the key to your success. If you focus on your abilities instead of your disabilities, there is a lot you can achieve. Be determined, keep going and live the best life you can.


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