Exercise Ideas for the Physically Disabled

By Shannon C , last updated December 28, 2011

Just as with individuals who have full physical function, exercise ideas for the physically disabled should include a balanced blend of flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular exercise, modified appropriately for their range of motion and ability. If you or someone you love has a physical disability, this does not mean there is no mechanism for you to maintain an appropriate degree of personal fitness and physical health. Finding exercise ideas that are suitably modified for a physical disability should always begin with a consultation with your health care provider, and you should make sure to start slowly and monitor how you are feeling by sticking to short sessions of no more than 20 minutes until you have built up some strength and endurance. Learn about the best exercise ideas for the physically disabled and be on your way toward achieving better personal health and fitness.

Adaptive Yoga or Pilates

Adaptive yoga is already in place even for individuals with full range of motion and normal physical function. In particular, yogic disciplines like hatha, Iyengar, and restorative yoga are ideally suited to be modified for adaptive yoga because of their slower pace, focus on attaining a posture that works for each individual body, and the extensive use of props. With the individualized instruction that is often available, especially in smaller yoga classes, you can work on each pose at your own pace and without pressure with the use of props suited to your disability. Props such as chairs, yoga mats, blocks, blankets, straps, and breathing techniques can also aid in adding adaptive yoga for strength, flexibility, and endurance to your regular exercise routine. Pilates can also be a useful addition in similar ways to the benefits of yoga depending on what types of fitness options are available in your area.

Musical Aerobics

The powerful role of music therapy in physical rehabilitation has proven time and again the restorative and therapeutic power of music. When added to a fitness routine, favorite music can stimulate motion and movement in areas of the brain that may be off-limits when accessed through conscious thought. With the strategic use of balls, mats, rubber bands, chairs, and water pools, the addition of music can create a fun and motivating exercise routine for a physically disabled individual. You can make obstacle courses out of the listed props that serve both as a goal point and as a stabilizer for the individual during exercise, and th addition of music will create an innate instinct to move with the beat that can prove motivational and useful for completing the course.

Water Aerobics

Water is often a great aid to the physically disabled person in making possible certain exercises that would be impossible otherwise. A pool of water offers several helpful props such as steps, railings, and the pool sides, allowing the disabled person to find a secure handhold while exercising. A physically disabled person can benefit from the anti-gravity properties of water to practice moving, kicking, leg lifts, arm rotations, sitting, and walking in a supported water-based environment.

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