For exercise, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). When disabled, motion is essential, but exercise should be simple and easy, especially at first.
Use a kitchen timer to time sets and gauge improvement. I started out with knee lifts only, and my muscles went rubbery within one minute; truth! Now I’m up to fifteen minute sets and I do a minimum of four sets daily, giving me an hour of exercise every day. As you’re starting out, every single added minute is a breakthrough. If I push up my time and it makes my knee or ankle painful I go back to the previous time. I’m building muscle, not ego, and I need to function when I’m done working out.
Keep equipment to a bare minimum. I can’t climb off and on equipment, and transportation to gyms is problematic, so basic movements in my chair are best, plus, it’s free and I can read or watch a movie while working out!
MY BASIC MOVEMENTS:
KNEE LIFTS – I miss walking, but this gets my legs in motion: With one foot flat on the floor, lift the opposite knee until your thigh is no longer supported by the seat of the chair. Lower it back down until the foot is flat on the floor. Repeat with the opposite leg. Continue for one minute.
ARM RAISES – simply lift your arms, parallel to the floor, off the arms of your chair as high as is comfortable for you, and hold them up for a count of ten, relax for a count of 3 and repeat. Continue for 1 minute.
ARMS – WINDOW WASHING – Pretend you’re wiping a window with a cloth in a circular pattern, one hand then the other. 1 minute.
HEAD TURNS – very slowly (I’m talkin’ glacial) turn your head to look over left shoulder, then slowly to look over right shoulder. This feels good when you’ve been hunched over a computer all afternoon. 30 seconds.
NEVER STAND STILL – A minute at the microwave, ten minutes waiting at a bus stop, a minute in front of the fridge deciding on dinner, get those arms and/or legs moving.
FIDGET! Foot tapping, ankle circles, finger tapping. Start doing it on purpose. Pretend you’re playing scales on a piano on the chair arm. Even little movements work muscles.
As soon as you’re comfortable, up the length of your sets by one minute. Do a set every hour or two until you’ve accumulated a minimum of one hour’s worth of exercise time a day.
Extra sets trump goodies guilt. Sometimes I do more than an hour, particularly if I’ve indulged in some calorie/fat/sugar/carb-laden food. The answer to the guilt is an extra set or two of exercises.
Don’t overdo. Pain is not gain when you’re disabled or have health concerns, and please, run these movements by your physician or therapist just to make sure they’re as good for you as they are for me.
Perpetual motion, and muscle flexing hold atrophy at bay and prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). If you can prevent that by staying in motion do so, because believe me, it beats Lovenox shots.
Let me know how you meet Disability Challenges! Comment away!