Active Living with Disabilities

If you have physical disabilities or are chair-bound, movement matters even more, and fitness is entirely achievable. Chair-bound individuals can reap the benefits of exercise with strength training, flexibility, and even some endurance movements. If being chair-bound has prevented you from trying exercise in the past, take heart knowing that when you become more physically active, the results will amaze you. Like any exercise program, a chair-bound fitness routine takes a little creativity and personalization.

Chair-bound Fitness Tips

Strength

Use free weights (otherwise known as “dumbbells”) to do repetitive sets of lifting. Don’t have weights? Use anything that is weighted and fits in your hand, like soup cans.

Resistance

Resistance bands are like giant rubber bands designed to give your muscles a good workout when stretched and pulled. Resistance bands can be attached to furniture, a doorknob, or even your chair. Use these for pull-downs, shoulder rotations, and arm and leg-extensions.

Flexibility

By practicing mindful breathing and slowly stretching, bending, and twisting, you can limber up and improve your range of motion. Some of these exercises can also be done lying down. Ask your doctor or search online for chair-yoga possibilities.

Endurance

Check out pool-therapy programs designed for wheelchair-bound individuals. Also, wheelchair-training machines make arm-bicycling and rowing possible. If you lack access to special machines or pools, repetitive movements (like rapid leg lifts or sitting pushups) work just as well to raise your heart rate.

Talk to your doctor or physical therapist about chair-bound exercise programs.

Local Resources

Ventura County Parks and Recreation programs offer classes and programs for people with disabilities. Please see our parks and recreation page. Other local resources include:

Ride On Therapeutic Horsemanship
Tri-Counties Independent Living Resource Center
Southern California Special Olympics
Disabled Sports USA, LA Chapter

Additional Fitness Guides

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability
Helpguide Chair Exercises and Limited Mobility Fitness