Exercise helps tone the muscles, improves circulation, helps with weight loss and does myriad other beneficial things. But what do you do if you just can't exercise (or think you can't)?
If your movement is impaired by illness, trauma, age or pain, it may seem daunting to get your healthy dose of daily exercise, but it is not impossible. As long as you get your blood circulating and stretch your muscles, you will be building your core strength and improving your overall physical and mental health. Even modified exercises, which can include simple at-home items and multiple short intervals, will do your body good.
One of the best things about having a regular exercise routine is that the more you exercise the easier it becomes. Simple activities such as walking, swimming and cycling can become part of your routine. If you are living a life of relative inactivity because of illness or pain, you should start slowly and build up to a complete workout in order to avoid injury. It's also recommended that you check with your physician before starting any exercise regimen.
People dealing with broken bones, arthritis, stroke, recovery from surgery, obesity, multiple sclerosis, asthma, trauma, amputations and many other conditions could certainly benefit from some of the following modified exercises. (All exercises can be tailored for your specific needs.)
--Chair exercises. You can do cardio and stretching exercises with arm curls, leg lifts, neck rolls and more. Use light weights, and do overhead presses. Hold your elbows out sideways (as high as you can), and do circular motions with your hands to work your upper arms and get your circulation going. While seated, lift and straighten one leg at a time. Hold it for a count of 15, and then increase the count gradually. Squeeze a large ball -- e.g., a volleyball -- between your knees. Hold and count.
--Bicycling is a terrific cardio exercise. For a great at-home workout, use a recumbent bike or a mini-cycle bike to work your leg muscles and get your heart pumping. Biking to your activities is cheap transportation and a cardio workout. Set a restorator on a table to work your arms.
--Water aerobics and swimming are great for your muscle tone. The water provides resistance, and everything from walking around a wading pool to swimming the length of an Olympic-size pool works your muscles.
--Doing resistance-band pushups is a great way to work your chest, shoulder and arm muscles. Wrap a band around your back and wrists, and hold it firmly as you extend your arms straight out from your body. You can do this either seated on a chair or lying on your back. It works the same muscles as traditional pushups.
--Yoga has movements, stretches and exercises for everyone, regardless of physical challenges. Its poses are adaptable to many needs, with variations that can be done while standing, seated or lying down. Many therapeutic exercise and fitness routines incorporate yoga in their programs. Among yoga's many benefits are that it increases flexibility, helps strengthen muscles and bones, increases circulation, helps breathing, lowers stress, and can even support immunity.
Check with your local fitness center for other useful exercises.
Remember to always begin your routines with a warmup and to wind down with a simple stretching exercise. And of course, stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet.