running man

Inclusive Exercises For All Abilities

We’ve mentioned recently in our blog “Swimming – a workout for all abilities” the many benefits that exercise can bring.

  • Strengthening muscles
  • Improving fitness
  • Weight loss / maintenance
  • Building / maintaining healthy bone density
  • Improving joint mobility
  • Improving mental health such as mood, confidence and energy
  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Reducing the risk of diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

However, some people may feel that they have distinct barriers that stop them from exercising. These could be being bound to a wheelchair, a mental health condition or a learning disability. Despite this, it is still important for everyone to exercise in order to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle. Adjustments just need to be made in order to help you get the exercise you need. Even if you are not able to take part in vigorous exercise, there will still be benefits that apply. For example, if you have limited mobility in your legs; focus on upper body strength training, or you may have a shoulder injury; focus on legs / abs exercises.

The Equality Act 2010 states that service providers must make “reasonable adjustments” where a disabled person is at a substantial disadvantage. This includes your local gym or leisure centre! However, it’s important to remember that the reasonable adjustment is based on how easy it is to make the change, relative to the potential benefits. The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) helps gyms or leisure centres to become more accessible through equipment, facilities and staff training. Use their website to find an IFI accredited gym near you.

As well as the gym, we’ve outlined some other activities that you may consider.

family walking

Walking

If you are able to, there is no easier exercise than putting one foot in front of the other and exploring your surroundings. As we’ve mentioned before, not everyone is capable of vigorous exercise but walking around 5.5 miles per week at around 2 mph is good for your heart.

Cycling

If you are not able to ride a traditional bike there are other alternatives available.

If you lack the confidence to ride a traditional bicycle or have difficulty balancing then a tricycle  can offer further stability. Those with a lower limb impairment can still take part using a handcycle. A running bike can be used to support yourself when walking or running and is particularly suitable for people with a disability that affects their mobility and balance such as Cerebral Palsy or Muscular Dystrophy.

And if you’re looking for a club, Sheffield Cycling 4 All run inclusive cycling sessions every Thursday at Hillsborough Park and even offer a range of adapted cycles to try.

isometric exercise

Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises, such as poses or pushing against a wall are ideal if you suffer from joint problems or arthritis due to their low intensity and decreased stress on joints. They provide strength training without the impact that other exercises may incur and are therefore suited to those healing from injury, beginners or the elderly. They can also be used to help prevent age related muscle loss.  Other benefits include:

  • No equipment needed makes these exercises convenient to do anywhere and anytime.
  • All or specific muscle groups can be targeted.
  • Increase flexibility.
  • Increase muscle strength and rehabilitation (when recovering from an injury).

This article from Style Craze gives details different poses including: planks, press ups, wall sits and shoulder raises.

Exercises From Your Chair

Being a wheelchair user can put strain on upper body muscles. Therefore it is important to keep the muscles strong to prevent injury or strain.

Click the photo below to enlarge these exercises recommended by the NHS:

NHS Wheelchair Exercises

Photo source: NHS

If you are using your wheelchair for these exercises, always ensure that brakes are secure and sit up tall in order to maintain a good posture.

150 minutes per week of cardiovascular exercise is recommended by the NHS, but this is not always easy from your chair. Chair aerobics uses seated, repetitive movement which can raise your heart rate and burn calories.

A great way to meet new people and exercise in your manual or powered wheelchair is to join a team, such as volleyball or basketball. Within Reach can advise you of suitable sports teams and clubs in your area.

Clark & Partners are sponsors of the North East Powerchair Football League. Check out one of our previous posts to find out more about them. If you are serious about your sport, why not contact Clark & Partners for a free specialist consultation to see what we can provide you. Call us on 0114 2293374. We can provide powerchairs specialised to different sports, such as the Storm 3 Competition powered wheelchair, pictured below.

Yoga / Tai Chi

Yoga is one sport catered for all abilities, from the completely mobile to those with more severe mobility issues. It also brings multiple benefits including:

  • Improving flexibility and balance
  • Improving blood circulation
  • Improving breathing techniques
  • Relaxing the mind
  • Reducing stress
  • Helping you sleep

Yoga may even help to prevent mobility issues in the future. Research suggests that this type of exercise will also benefit children and is being taken up by people of all ages. We recommend looking for a class specific to your needs, such as Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS.

Tai Chi is recommended as an ideal exercise for anyone suffering from arthritis, osteoporosis or MS as it includes slow, gentle movements. Routines are low impact, so don’t put too much pressure on your bones or joints and therefore can be suitable for older generations.

If this posts has persuaded you to take up a new sport, here are some steps that Clark & Partners recommends:

  • Always consult your doctor before taking up and new activity.
  • Get advice from a physical therapist .
  • Hire a helper.
  • Look for support groups or classes – these will help you get the right technique to ensure you get the most out of the exercise.
  • Set short term goals to work towards.
  • Try to do a combination of aerobic and strength exercises.
  • Join a sports league / team to meet other like minded people.
  • Always have fun!

If you’ve tried any of these activities out, let us know your story in the comments below. Any other recommendations for our readers are also very welcome.