In this article, you will learn about exercise equipment for disabled seniors. Being disabled doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising. On the contrary actually!
Being disabled can make exercising very challenging. This of course depends on the level of your disability. But any form of disability can make exercising difficult and unenjoyable.
Because of this increased difficulty to exercise, exercise is even more important for disabled people than for people with full mobility and functionality of their bodies. Most disabled people should strive to compensate with increased exercise for both reduced overall activity levels and reduced ability to exercise.
Especially strength training is important for disabled persons. Because it helps with reduced metabolism caused by reduced activity. And fights against the loss of muscle mass which will inevitably follow if you have to spend most of your day being sedentary.
Fortunately, it’s possible to do an effective strength workout for your functional body parts with special exercise equipment for disabled people.
If you have disabilities, it’s especially important to design your exercise routine with medical professionals. Your treating physician and physiotherapists should be able to tell you which types of exercises are safe for you.
It’s impossible to know how your disability and medical conditions affect your ability to exercise. So be safe and consult professionals.
Strength Training For Disabled Seniors
Strength training is a form of physical exercise that aims to improve the strength of the target muscle. As a side effect, muscles can also become larger as an adaptation to store more energy and produce more force.
We naturally have a basal level of strength simply from general activity. Every time you move a body part, you are actually performing a low resistance strength exercise. Your muscles adapt and grow naturally to move your body parts and objects you move even if you don’t do any specific strength training.
This is why even endurance exercises like walking, running, swimming, and cycling will help you build strength up to a point. They require your muscles to produce a certain amount of force so you can go achieve a certain speed. They are not optimal for improving strength and muscle mass. But will at least maintain your natural strength.
The loss of strength from inactivity can be witnessed even in an otherwise completely healthy person if they are bedridden for several weeks. They may need to learn how to walk again because of the strength loss in their legs.
How Disability Affects Exercise
When a person is or becomes disabled, it will severely reduce their ability to be active and exercise. You will likely still have a lot of functional muscle mass that can and should be used.
Of course, there are conditions like being paralyzed, that make the activation of the muscles in the paralyzed part of the body impossible. But in most cases, there is more muscle to activate than it might seem.
Because the disability will likely decrease your ability to be active, it gives all the more reason to do strength training. As this will improve your metabolism, circulation, and ability to use your functional body parts.
Depending on your disability, you will likely be able to use some standard exercise equipment. Next, we will look at some ideas for what you can do to train different body parts.
Exercise Equipment For Disabled Seniors: Upper Body
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If you have a disability that allows you full functionality of your arms and hands (or a single arm), you can train your whole upper body relatively well with little equipment and using only a couple of exercises.
If you are in a wheelchair or have other forms of disability that allow the full use of your arms, your best bet would be to get a set of dumbbells.
You can use a set of dumbbells to train your whole upper body. You can train your shoulders, biceps, triceps, upper back, and chest even in a sitting position. To get ideas for exercises, check out this dumbbell workout for seniors.
Another great piece of exercise equipment for the upper body is resistance bands.
Resistance bands can be used to train the whole body and the great thing about the is that you don’t necessarily have to be able to grip them like dumbbells if you don’t have the full function of your hands.
They are also more effective for training your chest and back muscles in a seated position than dumbbells because they don’t rely on gravity to produce resistance.
You can find ideas for resistance band workouts in the article Theraband Exercises For Seniors.
Exercise Equipment For Disabled Seniors: Lower Body
If your disability allows you to use your legs it makes general activity and getting around much easier. Strength training for legs can still be bit troublesome if your disability prevents you from using your arms or causes mobility issues in your legs.
If you can walk or cycle you could focus on those and you might not need any equipment to strengthen the muscles of your legs. If you can do even partial bodyweight squats, you should use them to improve your strength.
You can also use different kinds of resistance bands as I showed in the previous chapter to improve your leg strength if you have the ability to move your legs but can’t walk due to your disability.
If money is not an issue for you there are options for full-body training, that include everything you need to train your whole body, including your legs.
Exercise Equipment For Disabled Seniors: Cardio
Depending on your disability there are a few options for doing cardiovascular workouts at home. If you have full functionality of your upper body and hands you can use a peddler to do cardiovascular exercise with your arms.
Medical peddlers are like smaller versions of a stationary exercise bike that can be used with both your arms and legs.
Here’s a great explanation of them by Mike Morris from FullCircleHealthSMP on YouTube (YouTube embed, content not owned or created by ElderStrength.com):
MagneTrainer-ER Mini Exercise Bike is a good example of a high-quality model you can get for home use.
It features a patented magnetic resistance that allows a higher resistance range than typical magnetic pedal exercisers. It has a sturdy steel base and a wide footprint for added stability. The monitor displays speed, distance, time, and calories.
If you lack the complete ability to move your arms and legs or a recovering from a stroke, a motorized rehab training cycle might be a good option to get some muscle activation and circulation.
Electrostimulation for muscle activation
If your disability prevents you from moving altogether, you might want to consider electrostimulation therapy devices. They are special therapy devices that should be used as instructed by your PT or physician.
Electro stimulation devices will not provide all the benefits of exercises and strength training. But they do activate your muscles and cause desirable metabolic effects and nerve activation.
One of the most important benefits of electrostimulation therapy is that it can help stroke victims regain muscle and nerve function through stimulation.
Electric stimulation works even if your muscles are permanently paralyzed. Because it doesn’t rely on the nerve signal that comes from your central nervous system but uses electric current to contract the muscle fibers instead.
Many devices are equipped with programs for something called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation which is a form of electric stimulation of the nerves. It’s very useful for controlling pain and has been successfully used to decrease spasticity as well.
I hope you found these exercise equipment tips for disabled seniors useful and will find something appropriate for your own individual situation. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments section below. I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
It’s important to realize that being disabled doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. And that exercise is even more important for your health when you are disabled. Fortunately, there are a lot of options. You might have to get a bit creative to find the workouts and equipment that suit your individual situation.
The important thing is to never get discouraged and give up. Any exercise you can perform is a victory and being consistent is the key.
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Thanks for reading!