Clever Cardio for Those with Mobility Issues


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  185 comments   :  162,106 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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  • 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
  • 120
    Thank you for this blog. Many times I have felt like I can't do an exercise unless I can do it perfectly. Then I would think, why even bother if I can't do it perfectly. I know I was wrong to think this way in the past. So after an injury or a long time since working out, I realized that it doesn't have to be perfect, I just have to do it. Thanks for the suggestions they will come in handy when I am sidelined. I can work out even if I can't get out of my chair. I can start with the basics and as I get stronger, I can do a few more sets and reps. And when I am able to get up out of my chair, I can do the standing exercises too. Slow, but sure, is better than doing nothing while I wait for my injury to heal. Thanks for the motivational blog - 3/29/2016   1:49:53 AM
  • 119
    Thanks! Great ideas! - 9/28/2014   2:05:39 PM
  • 118
    This is going to help me during my recuperation from a back injury. Thank you. - 8/25/2014   7:48:32 AM
    Great ideas! thank you! - 8/5/2014   9:29:21 PM
  • 116
    thanks beth for all your motivation. It is helping me to keep going. I am going to be like you and I too am going to reach that mark and I cant wait for the day when it happens. - 1/3/2014   3:02:03 AM
  • 115
    i was on my way to give up and then i found this forum.i just had ankle fusion surgery and it makes my 3rd surgery overall.i have 100 pounds to lose and i would like to do so by may which is my daughters graduation.thankyou for this community,without this i would not have any type of encouragement from the outside world.noone understands what i have been dealing with for the past 3yrs with my leg and ankle.hopefully slow and steady will win this race. - 12/28/2013   10:46:04 AM
  • 114
    These are great, Beth. You do so much on your journey to help all of us! I am really needing these. I've been walking in the house with a walker. Now I can do others from my power chair. - 11/24/2013   11:00:57 PM
  • 113
    Thanks for the inspiration. I love chair dancing, and it doesn't even "feel" like exercise, it's just plain fun!
    - 5/22/2013   9:30:41 PM
  • TAMARA_2014
    I have a rare disease called Microscopic Polyangiitis. Because of pain, and the medications I need to stay alive, I am at 482lbs. I can't do anything most days, until I read this and now, I am doing chair exercise. I love your blog and your ideas. Do you have any ideas for people who need to strengthen their legs but can't stand on them for more than a couple of minutes? - 4/12/2013   7:48:31 PM
    can't wait to try some of this. I was diagnosed with a bone disorder a year and a half ago, so I can't put much weight on my leg (plus, I wear a brace for stabilization). I have been doing a water therapy class at the Y, as well as chair yoga and am always looking for something else I can do. - 3/15/2013   9:36:52 PM
  • 110
    THANKS SOOO MUCHERS !!! I, myself am in this position (lying down) and its quite permanent. I SO APPRECIATE ur idea's !! Also I am a leader for a team , and some on it can REALLY USE THESE !! THANKS SOOO MUCH ! - 3/2/2013   3:46:12 AM
    Thank you Beth for the tips. I had total knee replacement on my left knee in Sept. and still have pain and do not have full range of motion. I try to do some cardio and weights. I like your suggestion for the Frisbee exercise and plan to try it. You are an inspiration, keep up the good work. - 12/19/2012   8:52:25 PM
  • 108
    Thank you so much for this post. It's the inspiration and advice I needed for today. - 9/30/2012   11:51:47 AM
    Wonderful ideas, when i come up with more, I will post them as well. - 9/19/2012   7:14:37 PM
    thanks so much for the ideas - 6/28/2012   11:53:33 PM
  • 105
    Great ideas! I am a paraplegic myself and looking for better ways to get a bit healthier, I plan on trying a few of these ideas out :) Thank you for sharing! - 6/25/2012   3:24:40 AM
  • 104
    I've been doing chair exercises for two weeks. I haven't worked up to everyday or reached 30 minutes, but I really appreciate the information here that encourages me to JUST GET MOVING. Thank you. - 4/13/2012   3:41:21 PM
  • 103
    Thank you for be so inspiring! Keep up the great job and wishing you continued success!!! - 4/4/2012   4:15:01 PM
    I'm going to have to try to pillow one and pass it on that's these are great. Keep up the awesome work of self care :o) - 11/11/2011   5:25:33 AM
  • 101
    Thank you for this. I have an "adopted" daughter who is in a wheelchair..she lost one of her legs from the knee down in an accident. She has been wanting to exercise and do some cardio, but wasnt sure what she would be able to do. thank you so much for these suggestions. I will pass them along to her. - 11/8/2011   10:07:21 AM
    Very clever! Thanks & good luck in your journey! - 10/2/2011   8:37:33 AM
  • 99
    Great ideas....I love the Frisbee hula rings....going to be looking for those. I can do those at work. - 9/30/2011   12:08:23 PM
  • 98
    Thank you SO much for these awesome suggestions. At 26 I am facing my first knee replacement as well as fusing two of the bones in my ankle which will decrease my mobility extraordinarily. I appreciate you pointing the way toward being able to do cardio while unable to use your lower body. I am so grateful! - 9/30/2011   10:32:21 AM
  • 97
    Thanks for posting this & giving me a shove in the right direction....this is something that I can do. Just have not had the motivation lately to do any kind of exercises and it is telling on legs are getting really weak, and my balance is this is start in the right direction anyway. - 9/9/2011   11:52:30 AM
  • 96
    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been focusing on what I can't do lately, rather than what I CAN do. I plan to try some of these today :) - 9/9/2011   9:41:56 AM
  • 95
    thank you for posting a blog that was one of the most inspirational and downright handy I've come across in months! Now I can stop feeling sorry for my limitations and get creative! - 9/8/2011   1:15:39 AM
  • 94
    thank you sooooo much. I have been feeling sorry for my self because of my limitations from several surgeries. But now I want to start moving with my upper body!! Thanks again! - 9/7/2011   11:49:12 PM
  • 93
    Needed this! Thank you thank you thank you!
    dDawn - 9/7/2011   9:59:29 PM
  • 92
    sorry it posted twice. - 9/7/2011   4:19:22 PM
  • 91
    Love love love this blog....I have started sitting and moving on my exercise ball when ever I am at the takes up so much time. Now it is not entirely wasted or waisted.....because the waist gets a workout. Music helps for sure. Thanks again Beth. By the way..Beth is my daughter's name. - 9/7/2011   4:19:21 PM
  • KARNT6
    How inspiring, And congratulations on your progress so far. I'm going to share this with my sister who is 300 + pounds and can't stand for very long. I'm going to use your suggestions also. - 9/7/2011   12:15:47 PM
    I have really bad feet and ankles so walking for exercise is not an option for me. I can, however still do water aerobics and ride the stationary bike for a work out. - 9/7/2011   11:05:05 AM
  • 88
    What a wonderful set of ideas!! I'm going to give them a try. - 9/7/2011   8:20:50 AM
  • GRAMMIE1959
    You have inspired me to MOVE! Thank you so much - 9/7/2011   3:46:47 AM
  • 86
    Yours is one of the most motivating posts I've read. Congratulations, and thank you! - 9/6/2011   7:12:21 PM

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