Exercise is important for people in all stages of their life. We at Carefect Home Care Services understand that those in wheelchairs or those who suffer from limited mobility might find it difficult to exercise, but it does not have to be. There are a variety of different exercises options that seniors in wheelchairs or with limited mobility can take part in to help keep themselves healthy. Family caregivers can monitor their loved ones as they exercise to help ensure that they are safe so that they will not get injured while exercising.
Starting an Exercise Routine
To begin, you should talk to your doctor about any health issues that might affect your ability to exercise. Aside from your limited mobility, you also have to consider other aspects of your health such as the condition of your heart or if you have any other disabilities. Heart problems or other disabilities do not make exercise impossible, but it is always important to address those issues with a doctor before starting an exercise program to ensure your safety. After talking with your doctor you should have an idea about how much exercise you should engage in daily and what types of exercises to avoid. Following those instructions will help ensure that exercise is more enjoyable and that you will not get injured while trying to exercise.
Once you are ready to start an exercise routine, there are plenty of tips that you can follow to help motivate yourself. First, you should try to pick a time of day that is convenient for you when you are usually not busy so that you can do your exercises at the same time each day. Exercising at the same time each day helps you to incorporate exercise in as part of your daily routine so you will be less likely to look for excuses to skip it. Next, you should try starting small and increasing your exercises over time. Most people, even if they are extremely fit, should not start out with an unrealistic goal like running 10 miles on their first day of their new fitness routine. For the first few days or weeks you should focus on setting exercise goals for yourself that are manageable and then work on slowly increasing your exercise levels so you will be able to reach them. Once you find exercises that you can do from your chair or exercises that can accommodate your needs, you can slowly add on more activity as you progress. An easy example of this is if you want to start curling with 5 pound weights doing 10 reps a day. After a few days you might be ready to go up to 15 and then 20 and then eventually you might be strong enough to move on to heavier weights. Caregivers can help by making sure that their loved ones are setting realistic goals for themselves and are not trying to take on anything that will cause injury.
The main type of exercise that seniors should try to engage in is cardiovascular exercises. Cardiovascular exercises can often be difficult for seniors and those with limited mobility because of the types of exercises that this category includes. Some popular cardiovascular exercises include walking, running, cycling, swimming, and aerobics. If those types of exercise are difficult or out of the question for you, that does not mean that you cannot find other ways to do cardiovascular exercises. Many seniors enjoy water aerobics because the water supports the body so there is less physical strain on the body from exercising. Seniors with limited mobility from illness such as arthritis will find water exercises to be particularly useful to them because the support from the water will help to relieve muscular and joint discomfort while exercising. Even if you do not want to participate in a water aerobics class, you can still benefit from swimming on your own. Swimming is very good exercise, and even those who cannot move their legs at all can swim. If you are unable to move your legs at all, you can get a life vest which will support your weight and then swim using your arms. This will give your body the exercise it needs while ensuring that you are safe in the water even if your arms get tired. If you do not like swimming or being in the water, there are other options available that you can do from home. Many seniors can enjoy chair aerobics from the comfort of their own living room by buying a workout video designed for people in wheelchairs and trying out the exercises. If you can afford to invest some money in your workout, you can buy a hand powered cycle for your home. If you cannot afford to buy your own, you can look for gyms in your area that specialize in workout machines for those with disabilities. Cardiovascular exercises are very important because they are good for getting your heart rate up and increasing your endurance. Seniors with heart problems should be careful not to over exert themselves, but they should still attempt these exercises to keep their heart healthy.
Cardiovascular exercise is not the only type of exercise seniors will need, so be sure to read our next blog for more exercise tips for seniors in wheelchairs or with limited mobility.
Related articles and resources:
- Fun Winter Activities for Seniors
- Fun Activities for Loved Ones with Alzheimer’s
- Exercise for Seniors – NIH (National Institute on Aging)