Clever Cardio for Those with Mobility Issues


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  170 comments   :  156,445 Views

One of my mantras is: "That which I cannot do now is my aspiration, not my defeat."
If you are have trouble moving or haven’t exercised in awhile, it can be very daunting to take on new cardio moves.  Most cardio moves involve the need to be on your feet, so I’m going to give you a few that don’t.  This is part of the CAN DO SparkPeople attitude I would love to see people embrace.
As most of you know, I was totally bedridden at 460 pounds and have lost 150 pounds.  I had to come up with some cardio moves that did not involve my legs because at that time, I couldn’t use them.  Clever Cardio, let’s call it.  That’s the cardio you come up with when you think out of the box or throw the box out completely.  Remember everything is better with music.
Here are some exercises that worked for me. Always consult with your health-care provider before starting any new workout routine.
Punch Aerobics

I created these exercises to be done seated or standing.

Get 2 hand weights, the round kind that fit in your palm with a band that go over the front of your hand. Put on music and punch and do upper body dance moves.

Get a pillow. Put on music and punch the pillow up above you. The goal is to keep the pillow up. If it falls, pick it up and start again, just keep going, because the pillow WILL fall a lot. It's part of the game.
Yes, with or without your legs!  Simply put on your favorite music and strike a few poses.  Get crazy and just let go and move.  Add extra resistance with hand weights.  I personally like the 80’s music!
Hula Hands and Hips
Get two Frisbee Flying Rings.  Use one on each hand and make circles like you are spinning the hoops around your wrists.  
Make figure eights with your hips on a stability ball.  This is another one where you can really get creative with seated dance moves!
Resistance Bands and Hand Weights
Moving faster with these items will produce a sweat in a hurry and help you build muscle.
Sometimes I clean for my workout.  It sounds silly, but with my abilities (NOT disabilities) it is well suited to give me personally a sweaty workout.  That’s something I like to focus on now, my abilities- what I CAN do, rather than what is out of my reach. 
When it comes to exercise, nothing is out of bounds, too silly or too little to help.  Something is always better than nothing. 
What exercises do you use when you can't use your legs?

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  • 170
    These are great ideas I never thought of before. I'm trying to exercise more, but after having two knee surgeries and ankle surgery, my lower body will ache for days after some exercises. This is a wonderful alternative! - 1/22/2018   9:49:06 AM
  • 169
    Thank you for sharing these are great! - 1/12/2018   3:28:59 PM
  • 168
    Great info - 1/8/2018   12:59:54 AM
  • 167
    I love your inspiring can do attitude. Thank you for a reminder of how to move within my own range. Will try many of these as soon as I get off the heavy duty antibiotic. - 1/7/2018   2:16:18 AM
  • 166
    Beth, I'm sorry, but I just gotta say it..: I LOVE you!!!! You are such a blessing to so many people. Thanks for taking your personal struggles and finding a way to help others. - 11/26/2017   7:47:30 PM
  • 165
    I am one of these people and I think these are great - 11/15/2017   12:37:45 AM
  • 164
    When I started this journey I couldn't stand for longer than 45 seconds. Coach Nicole started me on Chair Cardio & Chair Core workouts for like 11 minute & maybe 12 minute blocks and now I literally workout for hours on some days (when you combine cardio & yoga and/or my walks in). Thanks Coach Nicole!! - 11/8/2017   10:58:21 PM
  • 163
    great ideas - 10/28/2017   2:30:28 AM
  • 162
    Cleaning, and seated dance are both in my list already. If you can use your legs, add them into the dancing. Or try on-the-spot running! - 10/23/2017   11:00:47 AM
  • 161
    Recovering from an injury & SO glad to have found this! INDYGIRL (Beth Donovan) & her blogs are always such an inspiration! Thanks! - 8/28/2017   3:24:55 AM
    great ideas - 8/3/2017   12:19:59 AM
    these are all very good ideas. Thank you. I certainly will try some. - 7/14/2017   8:44:57 PM
    Thanks for the great ideas. I've been using the chair videos of Coach Nicole and hope that some new ones can be added. In the meantime your ideas helped me to decide to make up my own exercise. - 7/14/2017   6:25:05 PM
  • 157
    "Something is always better than nothing." AMEN, Sister! - 7/14/2017   3:22:48 AM
  • 156
    Thank you Beth for sharing this! - 7/13/2017   9:46:42 PM
    great way to do some cardio. Thanks for the advice. - 7/13/2017   7:05:20 PM
  • 154
    Definitely good workable ideas. - 7/13/2017   1:15:29 PM
  • 153
    Thank you. I am incorporating your idea when I ride my exercise bike. - 7/13/2017   12:30:12 PM
  • 152
    Following foot surgery, I found the Spark Seated Videos (Cardio, Upper Body, Resistance band...) invaluable to keep me moving. I couldn't do everything of course---but as Beth says in this article, its what you CAN do that matters!! - 7/13/2017   11:26:56 AM
  • 151
  • 150
    I am basically "down" in winter, so I am definitely going to incorporate your ideas. I, too, use household chores as exercise. - 7/13/2017   11:15:47 AM
  • 149
    Your suggestions came at the right time, thanks. - 7/13/2017   10:57:43 AM
  • 148
    I love the pillow punch idea. I'm getting ankle surgery in a few months. I will have to keep that idea in mind to fight boredom and immobility! - 7/13/2017   9:41:28 AM
  • 147
    Still here and doing grrreat! - 7/13/2017   9:27:48 AM
  • 146
    Thanks for sharing.
    I've been doing seated dance for a while now, and I too count some cleaning activities as a cardio workout.
    The SP workout videos have a number of examples of seated exercising. I tend to use them for core and cardio, whereas I do my own thing for other Strength Training.
    I hope Beth is still managing to do well. - 7/13/2017   9:11:43 AM
  • 145
    Great ideas - I love the pillow punch! - 7/13/2017   9:10:26 AM
  • 144
    Great article; thanks for the ideas! - 7/13/2017   8:48:14 AM
  • 143
    Marching in chair, hand weights and marching in chair. - 7/13/2017   8:10:54 AM
  • 142
    For those who don't know, Beth's Spark Persona is ~INDYGIRL. Check out her spark page, she is truly inspirational. - 7/13/2017   7:53:09 AM
  • 141
    I hope this blogger is still doing so many others reporting success, suddenly you never see or hear about them again, and we can only imagine the worst. - 7/13/2017   4:38:38 AM
  • 140
    Great article, thank you! I think I will try the circle frisbee idea, to exercise my arms. You are very clever, Beth, these are all such great ideas! - 7/13/2017   2:34:30 AM
  • 139
    Great!! - 7/13/2017   1:19:57 AM
  • 138
    I can sit and garden. Believe me hoeing while sitting can get your heart going and give you a good sweat. LOL - 6/20/2017   9:52:04 AM
  • 137
    Awesome - 6/13/2017   9:44:06 PM
  • 136
    Wonderful ideas. Thank you so much. You are such an inspiration!! - 12/5/2016   8:13:21 PM
  • 135
    I am very curious to see how Beth is doing now, as this blog was written over 5 years ago. I searched Spark Pages for her but found nothing, and her latest blog (that I could find) is 4 years old.

    Has anyone seen her lately? - 12/5/2016   3:18:51 AM
  • 134
    Great ideas and great attitude! Attitude is so everything, isn't? Thank you for the great ideas and inspiration! - 10/7/2016   7:10:27 AM
  • 133
    You are a Great inspiration! I am a Beth also. I am battling weight and lack of ability for movement I do bed exercises every morning but Sunday. But sitting exercises haven't been possible for some time. Now I have worked up to that and had been wondering what to do. You have given me lots of new information to utilize and I will be putting it to use. Thanks once more. - 10/6/2016   1:18:35 PM
  • TONI48
    What an inspiration you are. You've given me such good ideas I can't wait to get started. Thank you and good luck on your journey. - 6/22/2016   9:44:02 PM
  • 131
    I have an arm cycle that I use. - 3/29/2016   10:25:22 PM
  • 130
    Loved seeing this article today! Helped me to put on a positive attitude! - 3/29/2016   9:26:57 PM
    You go girl! What an inspiration you are. Thank you for sharing your story! - 3/29/2016   5:43:38 PM
  • 128
    I LOVE your attitude!! My knees give me trouble, but this is good encouragement for me to not let that stand in my way on the bad days - I just need to MOVE whatever body parts I can! Thank you for sharing, and I wish you continued success on your journey. - 3/29/2016   5:29:12 PM
    I truly found this article inspiring! I live the positive attitude, focus on the can instead of the can't. I have two children that I home school, I'm always looking for ways to keep them moving. I will be using the Hand Hula! Thank you for your creativity and positivity. - 3/29/2016   2:41:28 PM
  • 126
    Thank you for these great ideas! I'm just starting over (again) with SparkPeople. I saw your article right after returning from a 2,600 step walk that left me a little breathless. I need to get serious about exercise again, but I struggle with hip and heel pain. Because I work at a computer all day, these ideas can be implemented right away. (Can you imagine doing the seated dance moves and/or punching while on mute at the next boring web conference? LOL!)
    - 3/29/2016   1:43:21 PM
  • 125
    Thank you so much for the suggestions AND the idea of moving (however we can) to music. - 3/29/2016   1:21:25 PM
  • 124
    Thank you, I'll come back to this after my ankle surgery at the end of the year. I'll be unable to put weight on it for 8 weeks. - 3/29/2016   12:33:00 PM
  • 123
    Thanks for the inspiration! - 3/29/2016   11:51:40 AM
    Great ideas. I can do some of these while I am idling watching tv. Thanks for the motivation! - 3/29/2016   10:05:10 AM
  • KELLY48647
    I am so glad I found this today. I am faced with losing around 100 pounds right away or ending up in a wheelchair within the next year or so according to my doctor. I try to do what exercise I can, but am very limited with severe arthritis in both knees and both hips. I can barely walk for the past couple of years because of the arthritis pain, and now the doctor says I will be in a wheelchair if I don't have hip replacement surgery that they won't do because of my weight. So many people have offered suggestions that are impossible for me. Thanks for some new ideas that I might actually be able to do. - 3/29/2016   3:50:43 AM

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