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Disability Exercises: Exercising for Persons with Disabilities

Disabled World: Revised/Updated: 2019/05/29

Synopsis: Exercise information for persons with disabilities to help lose weight and get fit, includes information on weight training, bodybuilding, and exercises for persons in a wheelchair. Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week. Active exhalation during physical exercise helps the body to increase its maximum lung capacity.


Main Document

Our exercise category offers exercises for weight loss, cardio and strength training, flexibility, yoga and aerobics workouts. We also provide information on weight training, bodybuilding, and wheelchair exercises. Although our listed exercises are mainly for persons with disabilities and health conditions, such as arthritis and osteoporosis, many can be performed by anyone wishing to get and stay fit. Most adults need at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days per week.

Physical exercise is defined as any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, including strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, weight loss or maintenance, and merely enjoyment. Physical exercise is important for maintaining physical fitness and can contribute positively to maintaining a healthy weight, building and maintaining healthy bone density, muscle strength, and joint mobility, promoting physiological well-being, reducing surgical risks, and strengthening the immune system.

Physical exercise is performed for many different reasons. These include: strengthening muscles and the cardiovascular system, honing athletic skills, and weight loss or maintenance. Frequent and regular physical exercise boosts the immune system, and helps prevent diseases of affluence such as heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. It also improves mental health and helps prevent depression.

Proper nutrition is at least as important to health as exercise. When exercising, it becomes even more important to have a good diet to ensure that the body has the correct ratio of macro-nutrients whilst providing ample micronutrients, in order to aid the body with the recovery process following strenuous exercise.

Exercises are generally grouped into three types depending on the overall effect they have on the human body:

  • Aerobic exercises, such as cycling, swimming, walking, rowing, running, hiking or playing tennis, focus on increasing cardiovascular endurance.
  • Anaerobic exercises, such as weight training, functional training or sprinting, increase short-term muscle strength.
  • Flexibility exercises, such as stretching, improve the range of motion of muscles and joints.

Photo of three racing wheelchairs colored green red, and blue.
Photo of three racing wheelchairs colored green red, and blue.

Active exhalation during physical exercise helps the body to increase its maximum lung capacity. This results in greater efficiency, since the heart has to do less work to oxygenate the muscles, and there is also increased muscular efficiency through greater blood flow. Consciously breathing deeply during aerobic exercise helps this development of the heart and lungs.

If you spend long hours in a wheelchair you know it can lead to uneasiness and be very uncomfortable, which is true for anyone who is disabled.

Keeping the body moving as much as possible in your wheelchair should be a regular part of your daily fitness program. This should be a priority no matter what your disability.

Doing regular wheelchair exercise will help you increase your strength, flexibility, improve your mobility, strengthen your heart and lungs, and help you control your weight.

Proper rest and recovery are also as important to health as exercise; otherwise the body exists in a permanently injured state and will not improve or adapt adequately to the exercise. Hence, it is important to remember to allow adequate recovery between exercise sessions. It is necessary to refill the glycogen stores in the skeletal muscles and liver.

Facts About Exercising

  • Scientific research suggested that exercise generally improves sleep for most people, and helps sleep disorders such as insomnia.
  • 27 observational studies noted that physical activity is associated with reduced all-cause, breast cancer specific, and colon cancer specific mortality.
  • The beneficial effect of exercise on the cardiovascular system is well documented.
  • Physical exercise was correlated with a lower methylation frequency of two tumor suppressor genes, CACNA2D3 and L3MBTL.
  • Exercising can help you look better
  • Physical activity has been shown to be neuroprotective in many neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases.
  • Exercise benefits every part of the body, including the mind.
  • Inappropriate exercise can do more harm than good, with the definition of "inappropriate" varying according to the individual.
  • Physical exercise, particularly aerobic exercise, has pronounced long-term antidepressant effects and can produce euphoria in the short-term.
  • Exercise combats health conditions and diseases
  • Physical exercise is becoming a widely accepted non-pharmacological intervention for the prevention and attenuation of cancer cachexia.

Two and a Half Hours a Week

A new study by Queen's University researchers has determined that adults who accumulated 150 minutes of exercise on a few days of the week were not any less healthy than adults who exercised more frequently throughout the week.

The findings indicate that it does not matter how adults choose to accumulate their 150 weekly minutes of physical activity. For instance, someone who did not perform any physical activity on Monday to Friday but was active for 150 minutes over the weekend would obtain the same health benefits from their activity as someone who accumulated 150 minutes of activity over the week by doing 20-25 minutes of activity on a daily basis.

The important message is that adults should aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes of weekly physical activity in whatever pattern that works for their schedule.

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