Whenever it comes to health and fitness, physical exercise is the first thing which strikes your mind. While there can be ways to keep you healthy, like eating healthy food and indulging yourself in to activities which are good for your physical and mental health, fitness or getting physically fit can only be achieved by maintaining a consistent exercise routine. Maintaining an exercise oriented daily or weekly schedule for fitness is not a hard task for a normal person but it can be very challenging for individuals who have limited mobility or are physically disable in any way. Is it really possible to attain certain level of fitness if someone is suffering from limited mobility? Answer is, yes. You do not need to have full mobility like normal people to experience the health benefits of exercise. Injuries, disability, illness, or weight problems may have limited you mobility but there are still plenty of ways you can use to exercise which will boost your mood, ease depression, relieve stress and anxiety, enhance your well-being, and improve your life.
Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins in your body that vitalize your mood, reduce stress level, boost your self-esteem, and induces an overall sense of well-being. Individuals who do exercise as part of their daily routine, if somehow get injured or for any other reason are unable to exercise; they probably will feel that their energy levels have declined due to physical inactivity. They may experience laziness, mood swings, and in some cases, even depression and anxiety. Exercise or any type of physical training can have such a powerful effect on mood that it is often used in therapies for treating mild to moderate depression and same results can be achieved as pharmacological treatment such as use of relaxants and antidepressants. However, any physical disability does not mean your mental health is also at risk. While some injuries or disabilities are best recovered by total rest which requires no physical activity at all, most of them still allow you to simply maintain your exercise routine. Involving your doctor or consulting your exercise physiologist could be crucial to your daily exercise timetable, so don’t hesitate to get them on board.
Believing that exercise will improve your health, is very important if you are aiming to achieve a certain goal associated with your fitness. Limited mobility certainly makes some types of exercises easier than others, no matter what condition you are in, you should aim to adopt as many exercises as you can.
Three must do types of exercise:
Cardiovascular exercises raise your heart rate and increase your stamina. Walking, running, cycling, dancing, tennis, swimming, water aerobics, or “aqua-jogging” are all examples of cardiovascular exercise. Aqua jogging is especially beneficial for individuals with mobility issues since exercising in water supports, the body and reduces the risk of muscle or joint discomfort. Even if your disability has confined you to a wheelchair, it’s still possible to perform cardiovascular exercise.
Strength training exercises are necessary to fabricate muscle and bone mass, improve balance, and prevent falls. These exercises usually involve weightlifting or using other various resistance sources. Individuals with limited mobility in legs can focus on upper body strength exercises. Similarly, people facing upper-body injury should focus on legs and core.
Flexibility exercises are also equally important as these can improve flexibility in muscles and joints, relieve pain, reduce stiffness and prevent injury. These may include stretching exercises and yoga. Even if you are unable to move legs, you can still benefit from flexibility exercises to prevent or delay further muscle atrophy or deterioration.
Getting professional consultation is very important before you can do any physical activity. There are chances of getting your condition, worse if you do exercise which is not suitable for your physical health. Your exercise physiologist or doctor can guide you about exercises which are best suited to your disability. How much exercise? What type of exercise? What activities to avoid?, are some of the questions you should ask your exercise physiologist ahead of starting.
Setting up your exercise routine
It is always good to start slow and then gradually pick up pace increasing activity day by day. Start with activities you enjoy doing, do not rush into things so you can keep your goals achievable. Set small goals and do it at your own pace. Remember, maintaining physical fitness while having mobility constraints is not easy. Achieving even the smallest of fitness goals will boost your confidence.
Next thing to do is to make it a part of your daily routine. It’s easier to find excuses for not doing it every day, so make sure to keep yourself motivated if you want to see the desired change in you. A good way to avoid getting bored is to combine various activities in your daily workout routine. Making it a habit is a difficult task since it takes time to make something a habit. Beginners may take a month or a couple to getting a habit out of it.
Making a list of fitness goals you want to achieve and pasting it somewhere visible can be a motivating tool. At the start, focus on goals which are easy rather than targeting the difficult ones which require time. Another easy way to keep yourself motivated is to entertain yourself while you are doing exercise. Watch Tv or listen to music if you like or call your friends to join you in your workout sessions.
Safety is first priority
It is very important to monitor your physical condition throughout the process. Do not push yourself unnecessarily if you feel the need to stop or consult a medical professional before continuing. It is always safe to stop exercising if you feel discomfort or pain, nausea, light-headedness, chest pain, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, or clammy hands. Your body can best tell you to take required action so always listen to what it is telling you. For example, if your body starts cramping even after ten minutes of workout or so, it is a clear indication that you need to adjust or modify your routine. Always start with light physical activity to warm your body up for the extensive exercise which is to follow. Never do any deep stretching when your muscles are not warmed up. Once you are done with you daily routine exercise, do not forget to cool your body down by further light physical activity for a few minutes. This way you will not get muscle cramps which can be painful and irritating. Keep your body hydrated and drink a lot of water as your body performs best when it is properly hydrated.
Having a disability or limited mobility issue, chronic breathing condition, arthritis, or any other ongoing illness, does not make it impossible for you to exercise effectively and get yourself physically and mentally fit. Regardless of your age and your current physical condition, there are plenty of ways to benefit from the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of exercise.