The SparkPeople Blog

Clever Cardio for Those with Mobility Issues

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
9/2/2011 2:00 PM   :  116 comments   :  27,950 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.
 
Dance!
 
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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Comments

  • 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
    112
    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
  • KERIPOLLAKOFF
    111
    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
  • PATSYJANE3
    109
    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
  • PINKNINJJA
    107
    Wonderful ideas, when i come up with more, I will post them as well. - 9/19/2012   7:14:37 PM
  • NASFKAB
    106
    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
  • HUNGRYCURVYGIRL
    102
    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
  • 100
    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 me....my legs are getting really weak, and my balance is off....so 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 computer...it 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
    90
    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
  • REDROBIN58
    89
    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
  • 87
    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
  • 85
    Thank you, thank you, thank you! 10 pounds down & I broke 2 bones in my right foot last week. I was thinking, well, I was thinking I was pretty screwed. Thanks for showing me how wrong I was - 9/6/2011   4:21:30 PM
  • WINNIEVIOLA
    84
    I do chair dance and have hand weights. My balance is bad and my muscles are spastic. Thank you!! - 9/6/2011   11:50:56 AM
  • 83
    Beth, I love this mantra, "That which I cannot do now is my aspiration, not my defeat."

    People who can move their legs but cannot walk might consider leg swings. Stand on one foot, tuck your pelvis and swing in front of you not more than 90 degrees and back or side to side. - 9/6/2011   10:26:09 AM
  • 82
    I can use my legs, but I've been at an impasse lately as to how to make exercise fun. I don't enjoy it anymore, and I don't do it. I wish I had a workout partner in my neighborhood, someone to walk with. Because I love to walk, but I'm afraid to walk alone. And the malls are so weird. - 9/6/2011   8:56:24 AM
  • 81
    How inspiring you are! Thanks for the great thoughts! - 9/6/2011   6:22:10 AM
  • FIESTY_NANA
    80
    You are such an inspiration! Great job! Keep it up! Amazing losing 150 pounds! - 9/5/2011   7:35:06 PM
  • HENNIPENNI
    79
    You are amazing. I'm faffing about wondering how to include cardio into my schedule. You encouraged me to get up, or sit or lie but just do it. Thank you. - 9/5/2011   1:36:13 PM
  • LYNNELONG
    78
    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. This has given me the push to STOP saying 'I cant exercise cause of my health' I now CAN exercise,I am over the moon at finding these messages, only joined yesterday, but I feel so positive about getting my weight down by about 50 lbs and moving move, life is looking up xxx - 9/5/2011   7:42:06 AM
  • WEASELANN
    77
    THANK YOU FOR YOUR STORY AND TIPS IM NOT STUCK IN MY CHAIR YET BUT GETTING CLOSE . I DO HAVE DAYS WHERE I CAN NOT GET UP OUT OF MY CHAIR BUT WANT TO MOVE AROUND. I HAVE DONE THE DANCING IN MY CHAIR AND IT IS FUN. BUT HAVING NO FEELING IN MY HANDS AND ARMS MAKES IT HARD FOR ME TO HOLD THINGS. SO I GOT SOME 1 AND 2 POUND ANKLE WEIGHTS TO PUT ON MY WRIST TO MOVE THEM AROUND. I HOPE I AM GETTING THE SAME EFFECT THAT WAY. AND I WILL TRY SOME OF YOUR OTHER TIPS . THANKS AGAIN I GUESS I NEED TO THINK MORE ON THAT I CAN DO IT . - 9/5/2011   5:12:03 AM
  • 76
    FINALLY SOME EXERCISE IDEAS FOR THOSE OF US WHO CAN'T RUN AND JUMP!!! THANK YOU!!! - 9/5/2011   12:10:59 AM
  • 75
    Thanks for the great ideas!
    ~Kim (dx MS) - 9/4/2011   11:14:23 PM
  • 74
    very inspiring and a great excuse to throw some j-lo/pitbull and the peas on and with my new speakers :) Makes me WANNA move hehe.

    and with this heel spur... a great alternative. - 9/4/2011   9:46:45 PM
  • KIWIGYPSY
    73
    Very inspirational! All the best on your journey. - 9/4/2011   8:38:31 PM
  • 72
    My daughter always considers herself handi-capable. She will love these ideas!
    - 9/4/2011   6:01:36 PM
  • 71
    These are some great suggestions!!! I would also like to add the suggestion of using a balloon instead of a pillow, too. That feels so much like childhood, it can't help but be fun! :D

    I am also a Registered Massage Therapist, and I'm always looking for ideas to give clients who are mobility-challenged. Movement is so important! Even if you can't "do cardio", just moving your body is a great first step! The longer you are still, the more your body will want to stay that way. In fact, your fascia (connective tissue that holds all your bits & pieces together) will thicken in order to help hold you in any position that you stay in for longer than 20 min! It will "melt away" with movement, but the more that is built up, the less movement you will be able to do. So, for those who have trouble even following the suggestions listed above, start off with simply exploring what movement you CAN do! Point your toes, stretch your fingers and wrists, do mini-head circles... your body was designed to move! It will thank you for it! :)

    Also, one little tidbit of self-help... you can do self-massage to any tight areas with a plastic water bottle filled with hot (not burning-hot, though!) water. Use it like a rolling pin whenever you feel a tight area (you can also use a tennis ball, if you prefer). If you do have an injury or health condition, always seek professional advice, though.

    Hope this helps! - 9/4/2011   5:02:11 PM
  • 70
    Great ideas! I can't do a lot of standing or walking; I have issues with pain because of cancer. - 9/4/2011   4:03:43 PM
  • 69
    Thank for helping us keep moving..... it feels good to move... i love the feeling
    thanks - 9/4/2011   3:09:14 PM
  • 68
    You are an AWESOME inspiration!!!! Thank you for sharing your struggles and your successes. You should be so proud!!!!! - 9/4/2011   2:47:18 PM
  • 67
    Thank you! I was in a car accident 4 months ago, and I'm still not allowed to walk. I have been STRUGGLING so much with cardio, I swear, I had almost given up on it! But this has some awesome ideas. I will definitely try them! - 9/4/2011   2:24:10 PM

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