Clever Cardio for Those with Mobility Issues


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/2/2011 2:00 PM   :  119 comments   :  43,291 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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  • 69
    Thank for helping us keep moving..... it feels good to move... i love the feeling
    thanks - 9/4/2011   3:09:14 PM
  • 68
    You are an AWESOME inspiration!!!! Thank you for sharing your struggles and your successes. You should be so proud!!!!! - 9/4/2011   2:47:18 PM
  • 67
    Thank you! I was in a car accident 4 months ago, and I'm still not allowed to walk. I have been STRUGGLING so much with cardio, I swear, I had almost given up on it! But this has some awesome ideas. I will definitely try them! - 9/4/2011   2:24:10 PM
    Congrats to you! I have walking issues, but found I love the Nu Step at our local community center in the cardio workout room. It is a "seated stepper" and both arms and legs are used, but it does not hurt my back. - 9/4/2011   2:07:31 PM
  • 65
    I like the Wii sports resort games. They have hand biking, archery, and others. - 9/4/2011   2:04:10 PM
  • 64
    Thanks so much for your post. It is just what i need right now to get started...i've got to find a way to get moving again. Between my back, hip, knees, heels and foot pain....i sit on the computer all day or lay in bed watching tv. Guess what? I'm not loosing any weight (over 350lbs) and i'm loosing the little mobility i have. Besides your exercise ideas, the other comments have given me lots of GREAT IDEAS!!! thanks every one......shari - 9/4/2011   1:48:05 PM
  • 63
    GREAT job, you are an inspiration. - 9/4/2011   12:52:12 PM
  • 62
    I do chair yoga (Trudie Styler's Weight Loss Workout). I have a foot issue and am supposed to avoid walking, etc.I love this workout because you can grow out of the chair eventually. Congrads, you are a creative, determined lady. I admire you. - 9/4/2011   12:44:30 PM
    Hi: Great ideas. I fell and broke my knee cap 2 1/2 years ago and still can't do a lot (walk, sit, stand for very long). As a result I gained 20 pounds which I am trying to get rid of but it's not coming off very fast!! It is so stiff but I exercise every day. Has anyone had the same injury and knows how to eleviate the stiffness I would love to hear from you. It feels like I have a tight band on my whole knee. Thanks.

    Pat - 9/4/2011   10:47:38 AM
    Thank you, Beth. I am physically challenged. I weigh almost 300lbs. Sometimes I fluctuate and go over 300. I am working on muscle and losing fat content. But, I just started aqua therapy. My first session, I could barely do anything and I was sore afterward and very tired that night. I guess it is true about the no pain, no gain thing. I like your ideas and hope to try and use them. I guess I have not been thinking outside the box much at all. I have felt a lot like I am not able to do much. But, more and more with medication and more confidence, I have been able to move more. I have had lots of physical therapy in the last year or so. I think I may start being able to actually "get it." I read a blog yesterday about the importance of movement. I think that every move counts and I like that Martin Luther King quote another member posted, keep moving. That is the best solution. I am on it. Thank you again, Beth. You are a terrific inspiration and I do admire you for all you have done for yourself and how you continue to encourage and be an example for others. You rock, girlfriend!!!!!!!! - 9/4/2011   6:53:14 AM
  • 59
    Great blog! Great imagination! Great inspiration!!! - 9/4/2011   5:32:20 AM
  • 58
    I love your attitude and that you are such an inspiration. - 9/4/2011   4:26:39 AM
    Congrats I have a lot of extra weight and its hard on my knees and back and when I sit too long I get stiff but the more I walk the better I feel so I know it will get better. - 9/4/2011   3:20:37 AM
  • 56
    way to go!
    and turn it around.... it's not "disability" (I'm deaf, I hear that a lot)... but in fact, it is "different ability".... ;-)

    Julia - 9/4/2011   2:08:31 AM
  • 55
    I love your creativity. Congratulations on your accomplishments. I may implement some of these on rained out dates. - 9/3/2011   9:45:54 PM
  • 54
    Wow! inspiring, clever, fun, and successful! Good for you! - 9/3/2011   8:10:25 PM
  • 53
    Keep up the good work - 9/3/2011   8:09:41 PM
  • 52
    Congratulations on your progress so far. You are truly an inspiration. And thank you for sharing your creative ideas. I'm sure you started a "movement."
    ;-) - 9/3/2011   7:47:58 PM
    I was born club footed in the forties. At that time the knew how to move my feet into a correct position. I had additional surgery at age 7. I went along ok for 3 decades when my feet started hurting me. Now at 68 years I walk but doctors say it is amazing! I should not be able to walk at all. All my life I was determined to do what I wanted. I think walking falls into this category. I cannot walk for exercise. 10 years ago I bought a recumbant bike. It has been the best purchase of my life! I ride it 4 times a week and do weights 2 times a week. I admire you and your creativity. Thanks for letting me know that I am not the only one with physical problems. - 9/3/2011   7:45:51 PM
  • FRANDOC444
    Thanks for sharing. - 9/3/2011   7:14:39 PM
  • 49
    Awesome blog. Your attitude is so inspiring. I am finding that as things start getting harder to do, I just have to find a different way of doing them. I have trouble finding exercises that I can do without adjusting them. You have definitely got me started on some different ways of exercising. I was getting tired of doing the same things over and over. The pillow is the best I have heard of. Love it!! - 9/3/2011   6:45:21 PM
    Thanks for the suggestions. I am having some knee issues right now and have been discouraged. Now I have some things that I can do and look forward to trying them. - 9/3/2011   5:09:54 PM
  • 47
    Clever ideas Beth! Thanks for sharing.

    barbara - 9/3/2011   4:45:04 PM
  • NIMI1234
    Congratulations on your weight loss and thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas. My mom has osteoporosis issues and cannot do cardio while standing. I am planning to share these ideas with her and inspire her to get some exercise and lose weight. Thanks once again. Please keep up the good work you are doing. - 9/3/2011   4:43:11 PM
  • 45
    Thank you for the suggestions--and even more so, for the reminder to throw the box out (love that!). My knees and hips are a mess after the most recent weight spike I'm slowly working back off here at Sparkpeople, plus I'm also rebounding from unemployment and was having trouble budgeting for chairdancing videos and whatnot. I now have a new commitment to come up with some beyond-the-box solutions to both those problems. More power to you on your journey! - 9/3/2011   1:59:40 PM
    Thanks for sharing. I am going to share your story wiht my niece who is in a wheelchair as a result of a bad car accident. You are an inspiration! - 9/3/2011   1:14:20 PM
  • 43
    I love your mantra, infact I may have to borrow it sometime. Thank you for sharing this. My mom has mobility issues due to a bad hip and knee issue and I am going to share your story with her..... - 9/3/2011   12:45:40 PM
    Thank you Beth for your wonderful encouragement and insight. - 9/3/2011   11:45:40 AM
  • 41
    thank you for all the wonderful suggestions! I remember doing the figure 8 one on the ball as part of my physio regime. I also tried dancercise except using just a chair (no standing required) it was great! Its so great to see others who are willing to share their success stories. - 9/3/2011   11:40:37 AM
    I love your pillow idea I will give it a go. You look so AWESOME keep the good work up. No pain No gain - 9/3/2011   11:17:07 AM
  • JACKIE1173
    This is great for me when I cant get to the gym thanks. - 9/3/2011   11:17:04 AM
  • 38
    One of the most important exercises for anyone, in a chair or not, to get rid of those bat wings on the arms, arm rolls, do them up high, pretend you are working a speed bag, down low, round to the side. How fast you you circle your arms around and don't forget to go in the reverse direction! They are tough!! I use weighted hand gloves for extra challenge, and they work for boxing moves too :) Do on a balance ball for extra difficulty! - 9/3/2011   11:07:36 AM
  • 37
    Thanks for today's inspiration, and congratulations on improving your health! - 9/3/2011   11:04:04 AM
  • 36
    Thanks. Being in a wheelchair it's hard to find appropriate exercises. This helps. - 9/3/2011   10:51:20 AM
  • 35
    I love your positive can do attitude. These are great suggestions. You are such an inspiration to so many, thank you! Keep it going girl. - 9/3/2011   10:43:26 AM
  • 34
    Great! Thanks! - 9/3/2011   10:38:50 AM
  • 33
    These are great ideas even if you can move around. Lying in bed and punching a pillow just sounds fun and will get my body moving before I am up and at em! - 9/3/2011   10:38:32 AM
  • 32
    This is just what I needed. I too have problems with exercises involving the legs, which most exercises require. Thanks for your suggestions. I DEFINITELY am going to give 'em a try. God bless you as you continue your journey to good health, and congrats for your successes thus far ... 150 lbs lost! You go girl!
    - 9/3/2011   10:31:36 AM
  • 31
    Beth, Super!!!!! Exactly, focus on possibilities and strengths! I enjoyed your ideas for movement while supine. What I sometimes do at stoplights when in a car might work lying down too: doing repetitions of bicep curls to the point of fatigue; same with elbows up, lowering fist to shoulder for triceps; holding most any isometric movement with arms/shoulders. To make it fun, turn on the radio/cd for a music boost. We learned at Zumba convention of a Zumba program developed for immobile or bedridden by Corina Gutierrez, so stay tuned for that! Currently, once able to attend a Zumba Gold class, it can be conducted with participants being in a chair and is still a party. - 9/3/2011   10:06:01 AM
  • 30
    some great ideas there plus resistance bands are great to take on trips as it fits in your bag without adding any weights. - 9/3/2011   8:32:54 AM
  • JSJORDAN47630
    Hi Beth: Thank you for the suggestions! I can do a few of the cardo & your list opened a door to more. - 9/3/2011   7:35:16 AM
  • 28
    Thanks for the ideas! I seat dance too. Good luck on your journey! - 9/3/2011   7:15:49 AM
    I recently injured my ankle, and was really trying hard to find cardio that I could still do. Thanks for the ideas! This helps a bunch! I was doing intervals of speed bag air punches with weights, and upper body twisting to target the core. Worked not bad, but I am excited to add some variety till I am recovered! Thanks again! - 9/3/2011   4:05:56 AM
  • 26
    Paul Eugene on YouTube has great "Chair exercise" workouts. - 9/3/2011   1:08:13 AM
  • 25
    Beth I love to read your articles. I look forward to reading blogs when I see your name. You are helping people who have a lot of weight to lose know that it can happen and you are giving them the tools. Your positive vibe is contagious. Keep spreading the spark.

    Daphne in Doral (Miami) - 9/2/2011   11:27:27 PM
  • 24
    What wonderful and creative ideas. I'm so proud of you and your successes. You have had to overcome much more than I and you've done beautifully. Keep it up, girl. I am cheering for you. I love the way you look at your abilities rather than thinking of them as disabilities. I'll try to put that into my thinking habits as well. Even with pain I have so many abilities to make use of. - 9/2/2011   11:08:33 PM
  • 23
    Your pillow idea is wonderful and seems like lots of fun! Anything to keep things fresh and fun is the key to success! - 9/2/2011   8:36:29 PM
  • 22
    em>250 /em> Reminder.
    Any action is better than nothing.
    Love this quote of Martin Luther King, Jr:
    "If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk.
    If you can't walk, then crawl. But whatever you do,
    keep moving."

    em>306 /em> WE can do it!

    em>247 /em> em>220 /em>

    - 9/2/2011   7:27:37 PM
  • 21
    Congrats on the weight loss! Keep up the great work and thanks for the new ideas. I might be able to incorporate some of these into a great seated workout to do while watching my favorite TV shows. - 9/2/2011   7:24:15 PM
    If you use large movements, directing music with both hands is pretty good exercise. 4/4 time goes all four directions. Sign language can also be exaggerated for arm exercise (and you get to learn a new language!) - 9/2/2011   5:50:27 PM

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