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Strength Training with a Disability

More Strength Means Greater Independence

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  • I am challenged by rheumatoid arthritis. Exercise is, of course, critical to the management of my disease. Warm water exercise is all I can do right now. And, when I am in a flare, as now, my hands are curled up and terribly painful, so it is not possible to grasp or hold anything, such as a dumbbell. I do use water resistance and I have water dumbbells, which I use when my hands allow. My feet, also, are extremely painful during as RA flare, so just walking down to the warm water pool is painful. BUT - the show must go on! And losing weight is going to make life easier. So - on with the show! And thank you for helpful comments and recommendations!

    Christine - 7/12/2009 1:04:59 PM
  • PUFFINLADY
    My limitation is my hip. I had a complete hip replacement at the age of 45, after years of pain and limited mobility from childhood disease. My doctor wants me to do things like ride a bike or swim, and prefers walking and weight bearing exercises not be my main mode of exercise. So, I've tried several different exercise bikes, but because I'm so short, it's almost impossible to find one to fit me well, therefore it's quite painful in the groin area. But, I'm still searching for that perfect bike that will fit my budget, and will eventually start going to the pool on a regular basis. - 5/26/2009 2:08:22 AM
  • My disability is chronic anemia, a type of MDS. When I was diagnosed in 1990, my hematologist said, "There is nothing you can do." Hah! That is when I became deliberate and consistent about diet and exercise.
    It has paid off. At 66, my BMI, resting pulse rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol are all very nice. My skin is pretty good, and I wear size 4.
    Now, let's talk about motivation and habit. I exercise every day, including days when my HCT is 18. I exercise more when my HCT is around 29. What would be the alternative? Sit on the couch and give up life? I need all the stamina I can get, and diet and exercise are key.
    Thank-you to all who donate blood! You help me to life a near-normal life. - 5/7/2009 12:32:18 PM
  • A wonderful article! Although I am not in a wheelchair, my exercise plan is restricted due to the total hip replacement I had four years ago. There are some exercises I cannot do. This gives me a great list of alternatives.
    Thank you.
    Jan - 2/2/2009 6:16:14 AM
  • Excellent excellent excellent start. I'd love to see more such articles.

    A couple of things to keep in mind... your "health care provider" is a good first step, however, keep in mind that folks with allopathic approaches are quite variable in their skills, interest and knowledge about both nutrition and exercise approaches. Keep in mind too that a very low percentage of people with disabilities are employed at their capacity (I'm an exception) and that means... less $ available for spendy consultations. If the doctor can't give substantive advice, physical therapists or people with training in kinesiology, which is "how muscles work together" (like chiropractors or even massage therapists) can sometimes provide thoughtful suggestions.

    These exercises are excellent. Note that hatha yoga is hugely adaptable for any ability as "the best you can do is adequate" and improvements are progressive. Swimming or water exercises like ah chi may work well for some.

    I will also share that this is my third year as a team leader for a virtual team for people with disabilities for the "president's fitness challenge" -- which includes activities for people with disabilities. The program offers options for everyone from sedentary people to marathoners (our team had everything from a 28 year old post heart attack participant (yes, cleared by her doctor) to a guy who had participated in 23 marathons in his wheelchair. And yes, we did occasionally adapt some of the suggested exercises (think about chopping firewood and hauling it to your house in your wheelchair, for instance!)

    Thanks thanks thanks for addressing this issue. It would be fun to have a fitness video that features a disabled model (do keep in mind there are all sorts of disabilities out here!) One of my favorite images was of my boyfriend from some years ago running with a guide -- carrying the Olympic torch. Oh... yeah... he was blind. And he also was big into riding horses in the back country. He also threw me in the ocean once despite my resistance.

    So... lotsa options out there. Exercise, whether isotonic or aerobic, can be a real healer and energy provider. Best regards and thanks again... Kathy aka Wallowa

    - 2/2/2009 12:21:13 AM
  • BIBLECHICK
    Thanks! My son uses a wheelchair and was very interested in doing more exercises with mom--now that he's seen my progress. I'm looking forward to showing the article to him as well. - 1/20/2009 8:13:23 PM
  • Thank you for addressing us, the people with limited mobility! It gets disheartening at times reading about how one should "push it to the limit" or "sweat it out"

    I am happy if I don't fall over walking and even that I can not do for more than 20 minutes at a time. Can not break sweat doing that...

    Thanks again! I needed this. - 12/17/2008 12:35:56 AM
  • Finally the kind of exercise article I've been looking for! I have had to modify every other exercise routine I've found (from sparkpeople and elsewhere) in order to do them. I have a unique situation with my disability. I am afflicted with RSD in my right leg. It affects my skin, muscles and bones with burning pain 24/7. I cannot bear full weight on that leg and only bend it about 30 degrees. Since I am on crutches and uneven weight bearing I now have back problems. I go to physical therapy for the back pain. I am allowed to do any exercise I am up to doing per doctors' orders (orthopedic and pain mgmt.) but with the limited mobility most exercises have to be greatly modified (by me) so I know I don't do justice to them. Before this all I had was a tape for people over 50 that I could not do a lot of even though they did show you how to do some with less impact. This is the kind of thing I've been looking for. Thank you!! - 10/1/2008 7:37:17 AM
  • Hi
    this article is great! I am wheelchair user (i have spina bifida since) and been looking for something to help with losing weight, which I have gain a bit this past year due to health issues.
    Thanks! - 9/16/2008 10:28:01 PM
  • I've been a member since 3/18/08, and due to my disability, I am always looking for articles that deal with this issue and exercising. Am I ever glad I found this today. It must be a blessing, because it has been a topic of conversation on one of my Spark Teams....."Disabilities & Handicaps." Thank you.

    Shirley - 9/10/2008 5:40:46 PM
  • I really am glad to have found this article. I have back problems and have not been able to exercise. Articles like these give me motivation! - 8/31/2008 10:50:46 PM
  • RAZORBACK5
    Thank you for caring about the disabled. I had polio and am in a wheelchair. I am so glad to learn about these exercises. God bless to all. Thanks......Shawlene - 7/21/2008 4:23:02 PM
  • I love this. These are things I can do with my disabilities.I am actually in the prossess of printing iut 12 of the printed version of the video to share with my Friends that I have a group meeting with at Cleveland Clinic. Im hoping that they will all join me here.
    Thank You - 5/14/2008 2:21:03 PM
  • BARBBAKER1102
    Thanks for this article...I hurt my ankle in a freakish accident and have been wondering should I try to exercise it.BarbBaker1102 - 5/14/2008 1:51:38 AM
  • NANNASNOTSOFAT
    2 years ago I broke my wrist badly and though it healed I have been left with a weak wrist.
    Because of this I have avoided srtength exercises. But this morning I picked up 2 cans of baked beans and did just a few and Guess what? I had no pain.
    I will include this into my exercise plans from now on.
    I think that perhaps l should have been given this advice by my Doctor.
    Trust Spark People to come up with this solution. You are WONDERFUL. - 4/27/2008 9:17:15 AM

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