Staying active is good for everyone because there are many health benefits. People who aren’t active may have a higher risk of health problems (e.g., obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease.)
Even if you have a disability or mobility problem, it’s important to be as active as possible.
Whether you have mobility concerns for a short time or a long time, it’s important to stay active so you:
People with mobility problems who take part in activity groups:
Being active can improve your mental health by making you feel better about yourself and getting out with others. Research shows that staying active can help with mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, and stress.
There are many other benefits of being active including:
For example, if someone who has arthritis stays active, it can help decrease pain and weakness and make them feel healthier. Being active can also help people stay independent.
If you can’t do an activity, it can usually be adjusted so you can. For example, you can do many sports (e.g., rugby, tennis, golf, basketball, track and field) in a wheelchair. If you’re in a wheelchair, you may be able to dance, ride a horse, go canoeing or kayaking, swim, row, take water fitness classes, or do yoga and t’ai chi classes. Many winter activities can also be adjusted like sledge hockey, cross country skiing, and downhill skiing.
To keep your heart, blood vessels, lungs, and muscles healthy, try these activities:
Strength activities challenge your muscles by pulling, pushing, or holding muscle contractions. Strength training helps keep muscles and bones strong, and it helps your balance and posture.
One example of strength training is isometric exercises. You contract a muscle, but don’t move the joint. This type of exercise helps develop strength when it hurts too much to move a joint (e.g., with osteoporosis). Talk to a physiotherapist or a certified exercise professional to make sure this type of exercise is safe for you.
Here are some ways to improve your strength that you can do at a fitness centre or in your home:
If you don’t know how to use machines or free weights, talk to a certified exercise professional to make sure you’re doing exercises the right way.
In a swimming pool, you can do movements using the water as resistance. If you need help with this or want a fitness program to follow, talk to a swim instructor or certified exercise professional.
Flexibility activities help you move your joints and muscles easier. Improving flexibility can help you with daily activities like bending down to tie your shoes, brushing your hair, getting up and down from the floor, getting in and out of the bathtub, and reaching for items in a cupboard.
Do stretching exercises slowly and smoothly—don’t bounce or jerk. Stretching shouldn’t hurt. If it does, talk to a certified exercise professional.
T’ai chi and yoga can also help improve flexibility. You can do both of these activities standing up or sitting down.
Fitness centres offer stretching classes or other classes that include stretching.
Most activities can be adjusted for any ability or fitness level. Stay active and make it part of your everyday routine—it’s good for your physical and mental health. Try to include different activities that are right for you.
Current as of: March 8, 2016
Author: Health Promotion, Alberta Health Services
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