LIFESTYLE

Exercises To Try At Home For Disabled People

13/01/2017 15:34 | Updated 30 June 2017

When you live with a physical disability or illness, keeping fit can be difficult. 

Just 17.2% of adults with long-term limiting illness, disability or infirmity participate in weekly sport, according to statistics from Sport England.

Meanwhile, 83% of people with disabilities would like to take part in more physical activity, a poll by Parallel London found.

The reality is that issues such as poorly-equipped gyms and difficulty leaving the house mean many feel the need to get creative when it comes to exercise. And while there are plenty of at-home workouts online, very few cater to those with mobility issues.

To tackle this issue, we spoke to the founder of Disability Training, Dom Thorpe, who has some workouts and modifications to try to keep fit in 2017. 

izusek via Getty Images

“There are a few exercises which I like to do with clients as I find they offer great results,” explains Thorpe. “Some can be done either in a wheelchair or on any other chair, the others are to be done on the floor so some transference is necessary.

“Depending on your fitness and strength levels, you may want to vary the amount of sets and reps, but a mid point suggestion would be to perform three sets of 10 reps for each exercise. In other words, do the exercise 10 times in a row before breaking for a minute, and then repeat that two more times with a minute to break in between.”

He adds: “For a cardiovascular workout you can try a circuit by performing the exercises below in sequence with little or no rest between sets.

“Try doing one set of each exercise before moving onto the next and once you’ve completed them all, you can break for a couple of minutes before repeating the circuit a few more times.” 

1. Sit To Stand

Sit on a chair and stand up straight, keeping your posture straight, and return back to a sitting position.

“This is great if you have a weakened lower body and need to increase lower body strength and stability,” says Thorpe. 

“If you need assistance, place your hands on your knees to help with the push or if your legs are very weak, you could try using a support bar attached to the wall (if you have one).

“If you are in a wheelchair, pull yourself up out of the chair while attempting to put as much force through the legs as possible.”

Suitable for: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, obesity, mild cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, partial lower body paralysis, motor neurone disorders and other conditions where some control over the lower body is present.

2. Seated Tricep Dips

Sit on an armchair and lift your body upwards using your arms, not your hips. Slowly lower your body back down again by bending your elbows. 

“This exercise strengthens the triceps, chest and front of the shoulders,” says Thorpe. “Strengthening those parts of the body improves the ability to transfer from wheelchair to other seats or the bed.”

He adds: “If you don’t quite have the arm strength you can use your legs to assist you slightly (assuming you have some strength in the legs).”

Suitable for: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, obesity, mild cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, partial lower body paralysis, motor neurone disorders and other conditions where good strength of the upper body is present.

3. Sit And Walk

Place two chairs opposite one another in your home. Stand up from one chair, utilising your core and legs to aid movement, and then walk to the other chair and sit down. Repeat. 

“This is a great way to improve your walking,” says Thorpe. “The benefits are two-fold. The sit-to-stand strengthens the legs and the short walk serves to improve... yep you guessed it, walking.

“The exercise can be done with assistance, crutches or a partner until gradual improvements are made at which point the assistance can be reduced stage by stage.

“You can also vary the distance between the chairs for a bigger workout.”

Suitable for: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, obesity, mild cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, partial lower body paralysis, motor neurone disorders and other conditions where some control over the lower body is present.

4. Reverse Crunches

Sit with your feet out in front of you, knees bent slightly and arms stretched forwards. Slowly lower your body down towards the floor, engaging your core.

Once you are lying down, bring your body around to the side and use your arms to help you sit upright again.  

“This core exercise is perfect for when you want to strengthen your abdominal muscles but you aren’t strong enough to do a normal crunch or a sit up,” says Thorpe.

“If you are struggling, use your hands to grip your knees or thighs to help guide you slowly.”

Suitable for: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, obesity, mild cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, partial lower body paralysis, motor neurone disorders and other conditions where some control over abdominal muscles is present.

5. Dorsal Raises / Seated Back Extensions

Lie face down on the floor with your legs slightly spread and your arms bent so that your hands are face down by the side of your head (see video above).

Slowly lift your upper half and legs upwards, away from the floor, and then come back down again. Make sure you’re using your back muscles to do this. 

“This is important to do after reverse crunches as abdominal exercises need to be balanced out with an exercise to work the lower back muscles,” says Thorpe. 

“If you struggle to bring yourself back up to an upright position you can assist by using your hands to press on your thighs.”

Suitable for: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, obesity, mild cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, partial lower body paralysis and motor neurone disorders.

6. Kneel To Stand

Begin by kneeling down. Slowly, place one foot in front of you and lift your entire body up so that you are standing, keeping your arms by your sides. Then come back down to kneel again on the floor and repeat. 

“This is a challenging exercise for strengthening the lower body and assisting with balance, stability and mobility,” explains Thorpe.

“It can really get the heart rate up too, if you’re not used to doing cardiovascular exercise or if you are overweight.”

He adds: “If you struggle with balance you can use one arm to support yourself on a table, door handle or wall.”

Suitable for: multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, obesity, mild cerebral palsy, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, partial lower body paralysis, motor neurone disorders and other conditions where good control over the lower body is present.

Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS