4 Workouts for People with Limited Mobility

By , SparkPeople Blogger
By Beth Donovan (~INDYGIRL)

Being disabled or having chronic pain or illness makes exercise difficult if not impossible. Some days I wake up and just want to stay under the covers in bed, where the pain is at its best level of control. That's no kind of life and led me to weighing 460 pounds.

After joining SparkPeople, I learned that short bouts of fitness add up. I started my fitness journey by going to my doctor/nurse practitioner, and they set me up with in-home physical therapy. There are plenty of physical therapy options depending on your insurance coverage. I've done pool exercise, mild gym exercise, total gym exercise, and table exercise. You should see your doctor or health-care professional before considering which option might be best for your disability. Together, you can decide whether you might be able to do some of the exercises at home.

If cost is a concern, it would definitely be cheaper to get a gym membership with a pool than to pay physical therapy bills. A few sessions might give you the basics and you could go from there. Some gyms have very well-trained water aerobics instructors, so do some research before signing any papers. Another way to save money is on the mild gym and table exercise area. A few sessions of therapy can give you the basics, and you can continue to exercise at home. Generally, physical therapists use equipment like exercise bands, stability balls, and very light weights. These sessions also use various standing poses and the table exercises use laying poses to help stretch the muscles. Physical therapy helps you gain strength, flexibility and endurance to go to the next level.


There are indeed other ways to get moving without therapy. The little gadget in the photo above (called an arm cycle or arm ergometer) can be used for arms or legs while sitting. When I had physical therapy, it was one of the machines they had me use to reap the benefits of cardio using only my arms. There are machines of various grades out there, so read the reviews. Some are cheaply made pedal machines, while others are made to give very intense aerobic workouts for people who are undergoing rehabilitation. It's a great way to get aerobic exercise without having to stand.

Amazon.com also has DVDs of bed and chair exercise including aerobics, yoga, tai-chi, and other things to keep workouts interesting and off your feet.

At 460 pounds, these are the workouts I created to get stronger and ready to walk again:

(Remember to consult with your health-care provider before starting these or any workout routines.)



  1. Roller Chair Workout: (Great if you can't walk or stand)


    • Find an open area without carpet.
       
    • Use a chair with wheels or casters on the bottom.
       
    • Put on music (optional).
       
    • Propel yourself using arms, legs, or both around the area.
       
    • Start at one minute and build your endurance.

     
  2. Bed Dancing/Chair Dancing/Ball Dancing:


    • Turn on some music.
       
    • Sit in bed, on a chair, or on a stability ball.
       
    • Now move! Dance, wave your arms, wiggle your hips, make figure eights, bounce, tap your feet and have fun.
       
    • These movements will strengthen your body to get up and around better. Try some wrist or ankle weights, or resistance bands to work in some resistance if you want. It's your workout, your fun time.

     
  3. Hula Hands and Hips:


    • Get 2 Frisbee rings or small hula hoops. (They sell Pilates rings at stores.)
       
    • Put them around your wrists and try to make them spin in circles.
       
    • Think wrist/hand hula hooping and you will get it.
       
    • Likewise, sit on a stability ball and make figure eights with your hips.
       
    • Hula dance! You can even get your arms in on the action.
       
    • Both are fun and will get your heart rate up even if you can't stand.

     
  4. Aerobic and Resistance Cleaning


    • Put on some music.
       
    • Get your vacuum. Heavier sweepers require more resistance, but the lighter ones get some speed going.
       
    • Now sweep! If you are walking impaired, the sweeper can act as a support. Move as fast and as much as you can COMFORTABLY, without pain. Aim for one room a day. Remember, any object you push or pull is resistance.
       
    • When I started this, it took me all day to sweep one room. I would have to rest after 1 minute, but now I CAN do a room!
       
    • Adapt any of your cleaning routines the same way.
       
    • Move to the music and amp up your pace.
       
    • Think of the extra time you save from combining cleaning and a workout.


The point is to move any way you can and get creative! Seek physical therapy if chronic pain and illness are too much and don't miss out on life.

For more information on exercising when you have 100 pounds or more to lose, check out this three-part series: Think You're Too Heavy to Exercise?

How did you get started with exercise? What is your best tip for squeezing it in when time is tight? How did you build up your endurance?

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Comments

HEDSTS58 7/5/2018
Great ideas Report
MUSICNUT 7/1/2018
Thanks for the great information! Report
HEALTH_NOW 3/24/2018
Thank you. Recently felt it was hopeless because of my new physical limitations. You've given me a new perspective & hope again......thank you. Report
CAROLYNINJOY1 3/20/2018
Thank you for valuable suggestions. I do bed or chair dancing all the time. Report
KHALIA2 3/20/2018
Thank you, I will also try a few of these. Report
HEDSTS58 1/24/2018
Great ideas for exercises Report
KHALIA2 12/14/2017
Thanks! Report
TOMATOCAFEGAL 9/13/2017
GREAT ARTICLE. NEED SOME OF THIS. Report
VIRGINIAGIRL 7/25/2017
Thank you. Very motivational! Report
MSMOSTIMPROVED 7/23/2017
I'm at my desk trying ab workout with rolling chair!! great ideas Report
LBSPOERL 7/23/2017
I always forget about hula hoops!! That would be great to incorporate. Report
MSROZZIE 7/23/2017
Always, there is a way. Excellent article. Report
LIS193 7/23/2017
Great ideas! Report
JANET552 7/23/2017
Thanks for sharing.
Report
JVANAM 7/23/2017
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed people can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
- Margaret Mead Report
4LMHJCR
some great suggestions here. So good to be able to find ways to incorporate fitness when you have limited mobility Report
I love this! I have really bad knees and it is painful to walk or do anything that involves long periods of standing or bending my knees. I have discovered my own option for sitting exercise that I really enjoy. I have a Wii game console and bought the "Walk it Out" game. It is a video game you play while walking. Instead of standing and walking, I sit in a straight back chair and with the sensor attached to my knees, it works just fine. I get about 2 miles in everyday and enjoy the game and music so much that I forget I am exercising! It may not be quite the exercise as walking upright but it sure gets my heart pumping and I feel great when I am done. Report
PMORENA
Very helpful... I'm recovering from ankle surgery so have limited mobility temporarily and these will make me feel more active Report
DOWN95AFTER60
This was just what I needed to see today. My movement inability has been getting to me lately. Your article was sssoooooo inspiring I'm printing it out and posting it as a reminder. Thanks for sharing. Report
Yay, Beth! Report
great breaks all the excuses to not exercise Report
MHMDHOSAM83
good job Report
What a great reminder for me. Just because I can't do something for 10 minutes to "count" as exercise, it doesn't mean that it isn't important for me to do something...movement of any kind is still good for the body!! Report
Thanks Beth Report
SZNNHUB
Excellent article! Report
I am not wheelchair bound, but sometimes I just don't want to be on my feet. These are great tv watching exercises as well! Report
These are very good ideas for those with mobility problems. I had to start out very slow but am in better physical shape now so it's getting easier. Still can't do exercises on the floor but I really like chair exercises. Report
Fantastic! Great job! Report
love this, great ideas! you are very inspirational!! Report
EMPORTER
Great ideas! Love your attitude! Report
SHAKERATTLEROLL
Great ideals for great workouts. Thank you Report
I'll always read if it's done by Beth. She's terrific. Report
You are inspiring! :) Report
ALOTTAHELPNOW
I loved this article and I am going to use some of these ideas. Report
BUDBUDDHA
Some good ideas. YOU TUBE has tons of exercise videos which I watch and follow. I also am grateful for the seated Spark exercises. Report
Thank you so very much for this encouraging and helpful blog. You've helped a lot of people today! Report
Thanks Beth Report
SANDPOIN1
I am so impressed! Thank you for sharing with your upbeat attitude. Report
LADYSTARR30
Thank you so much! I am in a really bad rut and need to start somewhere! Please let me know how you're doing on your journey. I need all the motivation I can get :) Report
Glad SparkPeople motivated you and gave you power to help motivate others. Report
This is just what I needed! I'm working on getting on program again, and at 495 I just can hardly get around. I will be using these ideas! Thank you so much! Report
Thank you. This will be very helpful for some of the members on my challenge team. Report
Thank you for this article. I like that it is by a 'regular gal' and not a trainer. Don't miss-understand, I enjoy the articles from the experts too. It is just very inspirational to get good advice from a non-expert who has had some real success. Report
Thanks Beth it is helping so many people, you are amazing Report
JOANIEB
I am sometimes in a wheelchair and more times on my walker but on a good day I can use my cane. I am able to walk in stores w a cart to stabilize me ...I need to walk or exercise. I got up to 177.2 lbs and I got my sugar down and prevented diabetes meds . This all happened after my accident.. Slipped right off a high back porch to my driveway July 4 , 2014.. I had many breaks in my left leg and smashed knee and tibia is smashed. I can not get a knee replacement due to the damage in leg still. I was first bed ridden a month and then had lower back pain and had two procedures . .I can not stand long so I cook with my wheelchair. Before this happened to me I was going to yoga three times a week and walked a lot and then this happened after a bad surgery I ended up with a bad hernia in my abdomen. Many health problems since I became handicapped. I just have to get my weight under control and prevent diabetes. I can not gain more weight it would be bad on my left leg.... Give me some exercises that I might do without standing on my left leg. .. Thanks. I also loose sleep due to my pain level. But will try to get myself better Report
I have been doing this same thing. I have a broken neck and back and I am on oxygen. I decided to try to do housework from a rolling chair. I have been trying to walk in stores since I found out I burn 300 calories /hour. Report
thanks for the great article. I am going to physical therapy at the moment for tendonitis in my shoulder . very painful . But your right keep moving is the way to go . Do what you can . My friend does breathing exercises and tai chi and laughter yoga .he has all free exercises on the above just type in Robert Rivest laughter yoga he helps many many people all free. Report
THEWALKNAZI
Thank you for putting this blog on SP! I have mobility issues now due to neck pain and about to have 3 level fusion surgery. I am so sick of sitting around in pain and watching life pass me by. I am hoping the surgeon will tell me when i will be able to start some exercising after my surgery. Hopefully i can start soon and pull myself out of the depression i have. Thanks again! Report
SOOKIEGIRL
Thank you so much for your article! I just joined SparkPeople today and I was looking through the exercise routines. Since I can't do the exercise routines suggested, I started feeling a bit overwhelmed. You helped put things in perspective. Every little bit of movement helps! Bless you! Report
NIKKI-RENEE
As someone who has tarsal tunnel in both ankles and is tipping the scales at over 300.... thank you for this article. Report
 
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