Paralysis fitness: Fitness Tips for Individuals Living with Paralysis
June 25, 2019
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For an individual living with paralysis, exercise is extremely important. While the degree or amount of exercise you can perform will vary depending on your level of injury and overall health, some daily exercise can provide benefits for anyone. What we are going to do today is to provide fitness tips for individuals living with paralysis so that you can maximize the benefits that you receive.
First, to motivate you to get started with an exercise program as soon as possible, we’re going to discuss the benefits that come from daily physical activity.
Benefits of Daily Exercise for Individuals Living with Paralysis
If you are considering a fitness program but want to learn more about the benefits before you put in the work, here are some things that you should know about the benefits of daily exercise for individuals living with paralysis.
Increased strength and stamina – If you often find that you struggle with low energy or that you need greater strength, exercise is the way to reach your goals.
Less body fat – Increased weight can make it even more difficult to deal with the effects of paralysis. Exercise is the way to take off those extra pounds and keep them off.
Better breathing – Especially if you suffer from a form of paralysis that restricts breathing, this can be vital.
Enhanced mood – Paralysis is often accompanied by a drop in self-esteem or even bouts of depression. Exercise releases feel-good hormones that can be just the mood boost you need.
Reduced risk of diabetes – Again, this may relate to how exercise helps to control weight. Exercise also helps to use up carbohydrates in the body before they turn into sugars. If you already have diabetes, exercise may help you to be less resistant to insulin.
Better immune system function – The hormones released during exercise combat stress hormones, and this can lead to better immune system function.
So now that you know just how good exercise can be for you, let’s address how you can add more physical fitness to your daily routine. Remember that before you make any changes to your exercise routine, you should consult your physician to make sure you have the proper fitness level to change your daily activity. Again, your doctor should be happy that you want to improve your activity, even if it needs to be limited, and can provide even further advice.
Types of Physical Fitness for Individuals Living with Paralysis
There are three different types of exercise that can be a part of your program. Once again, whether or not you can take part in all three types of exercise will depend on the extent of your disability and your overall health level. The three types of exercise are:
Strength training – This can involve exercises that either use your own body weight or employ some form of weight or resistance band in order to increase strength.
Aerobics – This is cardiovascular exercise that increases heart rate and blood flow in a controlled manner so as to improve circulation and heart health.
Stretching – This is the easiest form of exercise if you are just starting out, but it is important regardless of your health level. Stretching improves flexibility, joint health, circulation, and it can help to prevent injury if you stretch both before and after other types of exercise.
Additionally, you may be able to get involved with sports or other exercise activities that allow you to engage socially. This also can have a great benefit.
Types of Exercise for Individuals with Paralysis
Depending on the type or degree of your paralysis, you may new to exercise each side of your body differently, or you may need to focus on exercises you can perform while sitting down. Here are some types of exercise that you may be able to consider depending on the extent of your injuries.
Passive exercise – If you have suffered a stroke, you may be able to perform active exercises with one side of your body, and then passive exercises on the side that has experienced the paralysis. What this means is that you use your healthy side to help your paralyzed side perform the same exercises. For example, after doing some curls with a light dumbbell, you can switch the dumbbell to your injured side and use the healthy arm to help yourself complete the movements.
Assisted exercise – Some exercises may require the assistance of your caregiver or a physical therapist. Remember to keep your arms and legs higher than your heart if you are being helped to perform range of motion exercises. This will increase your heart rate since the heart will have to work harder to send the blood against gravity.
Cardiovascular – If you are able to walk, take some time to do so each day, even if you need the help of a walker. If you cannot stand, you can still get cardio for your upper body by rolling your wheelchair for 20-30 minutes.
Use resistance bands – This is a good way to do strength training without the risk of dropping heavy weights should you get too tired.
Shoulder shrugs – This is a good way to strengthen your shoulders and neck, and it is an exercise that most people can perform.
Stretching – Remember to stretch before and after your workout, or even as your workout if that is the most you can do.
Thriving with Paralysis with the Help of Exercise
Exercise is one of the many things that can help you to go from surviving with paralysis to thriving with paralysis. We hope our article has helped you to understand the importance of exercise and has given you the courage to give it a try. Even if what you can do seems limited, the benefits can be significant.
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About the Author: Bill Davis
Dr. Bill Davis survived a spinal cord injury on November 26, 2011. After years of hopelessness he found a renewed purpose and is now on a mission to share hope and healing with the paralysis community for the glory of God.
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