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Having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t be active and healthy at the same time. In fact, everyone needs daily exercise in their lives in order to feel good and improve body function and mood. The key is to ask your doctor about what’s right for you. For example, what will work well with any medications you’re taking, and how much exercise should you try to get in within a given week?
It can also be helpful to find a buddy to workout with; this way you’ll have someone to talk to, which will make the time go by faster, and they can also serve as a support system and a helpful partner who will be there should any problems arise.
Talk to your doctor to see if he has any recommendations for specific exercises you can do to strengthen muscles as well as a cardio activity, and be sure to start off slowly and work your way up. If you aren’t very active, try 10 to 15 minutes of activity in the beginning and increase the time a little every day until you can do 30 minutes at a time.
Here are some of the best tips on how to get started.
Be gentle with yourself
Jumping into a new exercise routine is not advisable, as you could injure yourself or push your body too hard. Ease into new activities and, if you feel you can’t finish, stop and rest and give your body a chance to cool down. Stay well hydrated and wear light layers of clothing to avoid overheating, especially during summer months.
Get outside when you can
The weather may not always cooperate when it’s time for a workout, but on nice days, try to incorporate your exercise into something you can do outdoors. Swimming, walking or pushing your wheelchair through a park, and even household chores like raking leaves are all great ways to get your heart rate up while enjoying the sunshine. Be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat and keep a water bottle with you at all times.
Take your abilities into consideration
Some types of exercise are better based on your level of function, so talk to an Athletic Trainer or a Fitness Specialist, and do some research on what might work best for you specifically. If weight training will help you gain leg or arm strength, consider starting with five or ten pound weights a couple of times a week. Remember not to push yourself too hard, and always have a buddy there to support you when working with weights.
Consider getting professional help
It might be helpful to train with a professional, so ask your doctor if he has a recommendation or check out local gyms to find out if they have a staff member who can work with you. Training with a professional can help you stick to goals, find the best workouts for your abilities, and keep you from accidentally injuring yourself.
Remember that everybody is different, and that it’s okay if you don’t meet your goals every day. Don’t give up!