Fitness is an important part of health. Athletes at the Paralympics and the Invictus Games are inspirations to all of us – whatever our mobility levels. But you don’t have to be world-class to benefit: a recent US study made it clear that older adults were able to avoid further declines in mobility with regular exercise, preventing or improving conditions such as “hip fractures, heart disease and diabetes that often underlie mobility disability.”
More generally, strong muscles, a healthy cardiovascular system, good blood flow, flexibility, balance, and a positive outlook are beneficial to everyone. And luckily, choosing to develop them is a very attainable goal, even if getting active doesn’t seem like it would be easy with limited mobility. Below, you’ll find our top five tips for getting fit and healthy this summer:
1. Be realistic
This goes without saying, but accepting your limitations and exercising within a sensible medical framework are vitally important. If you have a disability, you will have to exercise around it, and you should speak to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. If you don’t follow these two pieces of advice, you’re setting yourself up for failure, and possible injury.
2. Know the guidelines
That out the way, here’s what the medical professionals think you should be doing every week: two and a half hours of ‘moderate’ cardiovascular exercise (think of this as the equivalent of a brisk journey round the park in your wheelchair). And two days strength training. But here’s two important caveats: this applies to adults between nineteen and sixty-four years of age (older people should expect to do significantly less exercise). And you don’t have to do it all at once – build up to it.
3. Cardiovascular exercise
Cardio is very simple – if you’re not a sporty type, just take your wheelchair out and about and get the blood pumping. That said, if you do harbour athletic interests, mobility issues are not the end of a proud sporting career. There is a phenomenal range of disability- and wheelchair-friendly sporting pursuits available. The benefit of a sport goes beyond cardio: it also helps to train other important aspects of fitness (balance, flexibility, coordination) and can improve your mood in the way any fun hobby would.
4. Strength training
When it comes to strength training, you have just as much choice. Plenty of gyms are now inclusive, but if working out with others isn’t your favourite pastime, then there’s no reason you can’t do a short calisthenic, or body-weight, routine at home. Since you will have to exercise around your own personal requirements, it is well worth speaking to your doctor or a fitness professional before you decide to start lifting barbells in your wheelchair!
5. Have fun and be social!
With summer right around the corner, there’s no reason your exercise routine has to be an obligation. Getting out into nature and under the sun is a sure-fire way to make the most of the season, as well as your health. Rambling in the woods with friends and family, playing wheelchair basketball on an outside court, doing Tai Chi in the great outdoors, or just taking the dog out in the park, are all great summertime activities. And, since there are proven health benefits to fun, sun, and socialising, they’ll only make your exercise routine better!
If you’re going to be committing yourself to a new hobby or exercise routine, it’s vital to ensure that you have all the right equipment, and that it’s in prime working order. You can get in touch with Shire Mobility on 01604 580 600 (Northampton) or 01869 253 976 (Bicester) and speak to one of our highly trained and dedicated members of staff to learn more.