Low-Impact Exercises: Boosting Mood and Energy

Low-Impact Exercises: Boosting Mood and Energy

how to properly exercise with a mobility disability
SSDA USA is here to help you learn how to properly exercise with a mobility disability.

Living with a disability comes with its own set of challenges. For those who acquired a disability later in life, you may find that you have to learn new ways to adapt to continue enjoying activities that you have done in the past. However, as you know that your disability doesn’t define you, you also know that there are plenty of low-impact exercises that can help boost your energy and mood. However, if you find yourself struggling to exercise because of your disability, read on for some helpful tips about how to properly exercise with a mobility disability.

What Are the Benefits of Exercise?

It has been demonstrated time and again that physical activity is good for the body and the mind. Much research has shown that people—including those living with a disability—are better off when they exercise. Everyone can benefit from physical activity. Some possible improvements include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Elevated mood
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Healthier heart
  • A more positive mindset
  • Decreased risk of diabetes and some cancers
  • Greater energy levels
  • And more . . .

Speak With Your Doctor

Before you begin an exercise regimen, you should first speak with a medical professional who is familiar with your medical history. Everyone’s disability is different, and depending on the circumstances, you may be able to safely engage in certain exercises and not others. It’s important you get clearance from your doctor so you don’t injure yourself while exercising.

For example, if your bones are frail, high intensity exercises may not be ideal. Stick to exercises you can enjoy safely while also reaping the benefits of increased mood and energy. Again, it’s important to know how to properly exercise with a mobility disability before starting a routine, so speak with your medical service provider to help assure you do so safely.

NOTE: There are plenty of other things you should consider to lead a healthy life, such as receiving a proper diet and beneficial therapy. Exercise is only one facet of staying fit, so speak to your doctor about all the things you can do to improve your health.

Try Some New Exercises

With that being said, there are plenty of exercises available for you to try. Exercises are generally divided into three types: cardiovascular/aerobic, strength building, and flexibility development.


Cardiovascular/aerobic exercises get your heart pumping and your lungs breathing faster. These exercises are designed to keep your heart healthy and strong and increase your endurance and stamina.

Even people with disabilities have options when it comes to cardiovascular activity. Here are some exercises to consider:

  • Walking or Light Jogging—If you are able, consider regularly walking or doing some light jogging. It doesn’t have to be for long. Even ten minutes can get your heart pumping.
  • Sports—There are plenty of sports that involve cardio, including tennis, badminton, table tennis, and racquetball. Ask your doctor which sports are safe for you to participate in.
  • Swimming—Some light swimming or aqua therapy could be more to your liking. You’ll get excellent cardio activity in the water, for sure.
  • Cycling—You can get on a bike or even on an elliptical machine to get the cardio you need. If you’re in a wheelchair, you could have an arm elliptical fitted for your upper body, too.
  • Resistance Band Exercises—Using a resistance band can get the blood flowing quickly. Just don’t strain yourself!
  • Air-punching—If you’re in a wheelchair, even punching the air can provide sufficient cardio activity. The point isn’t to stress yourself; it’s to elevate your heartbeat and breathing rate.
  • E-sports—There are tons of video games that can give you some cardio activity. For example, bowling on the Nintendo Wii, or even certain real-time strategy games can elevate your heart rate. In fact, research has shown that playing some e-sports exposes you to similar strains as athletes in conventional sports!

Strength Building

Living a sedentary lifestyle can cause muscles and bones to atrophy over time. This can be especially challenging for people with disabilities. Not to worry, though. There are still exercises that can maintain and build strength.

  • Resistance Band Exercises—You can use resistance bands for arm and leg extensions, shoulder rotations, and even pull-downs.
  • Weight-lifting—Bicep and tricep curls are great possibilities, as well as shoulder presses and maybe even bench presses.
  • Isometric Exercises—These exercises involve flexing muscles while staying stationary, e.g. planking or squatting. If you have little mobility, you should consider isometric exercises to help maintain your strength. Remember: How to properly exercise with a mobility disability doesn’t depend on how vigorous the exercise is, but on whether the exercise is affecting the right areas of the body.

Flexibility Development

It’s important to stay limber to alleviate pain and loss of energy. To do this, practice flexibility exercises as follows:

  • Stretching—The simplest way to gain flexibility is stretching. From your arms to your legs, your back to your neck, there are many routines available to keep your joints and muscles loose and nimble.
  • Yoga—Here is a way to improve not only your physical health but also your emotional and spiritual well-being. Yoga has been practiced for thousands of years, and flexibility is only one benefit from the proper technique.
  • Tai Chi—This practice, along with some other martial arts, can increase flexibility, balance, and equanimity in individuals. Make sure you use proper form, however. Try tai chi in group sessions with an expert so you know you’re doing the moves correctly.

Develop a Routine

Once you’ve found the exercises you want to participate in, you should develop a routine so achieve a daily physical activity goal. Exercising every once in a while is not enough to stay physically healthy. Instead, routinely exercise by examining and planning the following steps:

  • Aim for a Realistic Goal—You should begin with a goal in your mind. Not just any goal, but a realistic one. Goals like, “I want to lose 150 pounds in one week” may not come true. Instead, think of something that you can realistically achieve that you would be willing to work towards.
  • Take Baby Steps—Once you have your goal, begin with small but incremental steps. Your goal could be to improve your heart health, or to enhance your mood, or to raise your energy levels, etc. No matter your goal, you probably won’t achieve it in one day. That’s OK. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing right, and it’s certainly worth the time and effort you’ll be putting in.
  • Maintain Diligence—The toughest part is sticking with your exercise routine. Many people give up after a month (or even sooner), and this is what drives people into disappointment. You should know that there will be mental and emotional blocks to exercising, as well as physical ones. But don’t focus on the obstacles; focus on your goal and improving your overall health.
  • Gradually Increase Workload—As you continue to exercise, your routine may naturally become easier. This is a good sign! If your exercises become too elementary, you can gradually move on to more intense exercises to gain even more benefits for your cardiovascular system, your muscles and bones, and your flexibility. You should aim for approximately 150 minutes of exercise per week for optimal results.

Have Questions about Disability?

Exercising with a disability can be challenging. What can be even more challenging, however, is not receiving social security disability benefits that may help pay for healthy food and adaptive equipment. If you have concerns about your disability and social security, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA today for a free consultation. Call us anytime at (602) 952-3200 or visit us on the web and fill out a contact form. You can also chat with us through our LiveChat feature. Don’t wait; get in touch with an advocate today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

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