Exercise is a very important part of living an Unlimited life. Exercise will keep your body and your mind healthy, which will help maintain your independence. When you have a disability, exercise can be a challenge. For me, getting exercise during the cold, snowy months here in Michigan is really difficult. The snow makes it difficult to get around easily and the cold makes my muscles really tight. This makes it hard, not to mention sometimes painful, to move.
Over the years, I have discovered a few things that make getting year round exercise easier; especially during those cold, winter months when getting any outdoor exercise, or traveling to the gym, is difficult.
For strength training, I prefer resistance bands. Free weights are great, but they only allow you to work on your upper body. If you want to work on both your upper and lower body, resistance bands are a great choice. Plus, they are lightweight and easy to take with you, so when that spring weather finally arrives you can take your workout outside. There are plenty of exercise video and routines for resistance bands online, so you should be able to find some exercises that work for you. The resistance bands I listed above come with a book which feature exercises for your arms, legs and core.
Working out my core has always been a challenge for me. No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot execute a proper crunch from a flat surface. I have found that by placing something under the small of my back, I can execute crunches in a way that is effective. I found that a mini exercise ball works best for me, but you could also try a small pillow if you think you might need extra support.
A workout is not complete without cardio. Finding a cardio workout that was effective and allowed me to use only my upper body was a challenge for me. I tried a lot of different “chair” routines, but most spend three quarters of the tape on stretching and leg exercises, this did not raise my heart rate to the level it needed to be. After much searching, I found this chair boxing DVD. This video uses boxing to create an effective, aerobic workout that you can do either from a chair, or standing. (Sometimes I do the exercises while kneeling.) This DVD uses only your arms and core muscles. It gets my heart rate up but it also allows me to work on my balance, which is something that most aerobic exercise does not help with.
Exercise is an important part of staying healthy. Exercise is possible no matter what disability you have. Everything I have listed, the resistance bands, the exercise ball and even the video, can be adapted to virtually any disability or fitness level. All it takes is a little creativity and will power.