How to Stay Healthy When Mobility is Limited

When recovering from an injury, surgery, or managing a health condition such as arthritis, you may find that your previous exercise routine is not possible. This doesn’t mean exercise must be stopped altogether. In fact, finding new ways to get moving can aid in the healing process, make chronic health conditions more manageable, and boost your mood. Keep reading for tips on how to stay healthy when mobility is limited.


Chair Exercises

Excellent for those with lower-body injuries or disabilities, and those who want to reduce the risk of falling, chair exercises can be done in a class or from the comfort of your own home. For cardiovascular training, you may use weights that are easy for you to lift – repetitions should be quick and frequent enough to raise your heart rate. For strength training, you may want to use slightly heavier weights, doing fewer repetitions. Choose a chair that keeps your legs at a 90-degree angle, and if in a wheelchair, make sure that brakes are secured. As with any exercise, it is best if you can do chair exercises with an instructor who can recommend the best types of movements as well as make sure you are doing them correctly.


Water Exercises

These may include swimming, water aerobics, or aqua-jogging. Many people with limited mobility find water exercises refreshing as the relief of pressure from their joints allows them a greater range of motion. Senior centers often have pools that are wheelchair accessible.

Even if walking is out of the question, water exercises may be an option. These forms of exercise may easily be done on your own, though many people enjoy the safety and social interaction of joining a group.


Modified Movement

If taking an exercise class, always be sure to tell your instructor about any injuries or limitations you may have. A good instructor should always be able to show you how to modify any move as well as give tips on technique in order to prevent injury. If an instructor can’t or won’t do this, it may be wise to find another class with a more accommodating teacher.



Eating well is just as important as exercising.  This is especially true when mobility is an issue as conditions limiting your movement may be made worse with poor eating habits. If recovering from injury or surgery, adequate amounts of lean protein are a must to help re-build tissue. Plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables are always a healthy choice, along with whole grains. Keep processed foods limited, and keep in mind that the quantity of any food may not need to be as high as usual since you may not be burning as many calories.


As with any new exercise routine, talk to your doctor first to make sure the exercises will not aggravate any condition you may have. Your doctor may be able to recommend specific exercises or refer you to a physical therapist. Additionally, never try to exercise a part of your body that is injured. If you feel pain while doing any movement, stop immediately.