DisABILITY Series - Exercise Benefits

Submitted by Shane on

It’s scientifically proven that exercise can offer many health benefits to everyone. Exercising reduces the risk of almost all major illnesses that are the cause of death for thousands of people each year, in each country around the world. Here are some of the reasons why professionals in the health field highly recommend exercising to anyone. Exercise:

  • Can reduce the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease up to 35%
  • Can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 50%
  • Can reduce the chance of early death up to 30%
  • Can reduce the risk of depression and dementia up to 30%
  • Can reduce the chance of breast cancer up to 20%

Even though many people with disabilities may have given up the idea of exercise, studies have proven that exercise can bring them the same health benefits as it brings to anyone else. Researchers have found that exercise increases the tonus of each cell, which can gradually improve the overall health of each person. People with disabilities might not be able to do all of the typical exercises. Even so, those exercises they are able to do —and physical activity, overall—can benefit them greatly if performed regularly.

The Benefits of Regular Exercise

Most health professionals recommend their patients start a regular exercising program. Regular physical activity can be beneficial for everyone, even people with disabilities who may find the typical exercises more difficult. Exercise is known to make people feel better and give them more energy, as well as increases the overall life span.

Regular exercise has many benefits to offer everyone who decides performs them regularly. Here are some of those benefits. Regular exercise can help:

  • Keep your weight normal
  • Decrease the chance of deadly illnesses
  • Improve your mood
  • Increase your energy level and help keep you more active
  • Improve the quality of sleep and your sleeping rhythm

Creating a great exercising program is highly recommended to anyone who wants to gain the benefits of regular exercise. People with disabilities who want to start a routine exercise program are recommended to consult a physician about their available options.

Regular physical activity helps people with particular disabling or chronic conditions to improve their muscle strength and stamina, which in turn can help with their mobility. Exercise is also well known to reduce the pain of arthritis and control the swelling of joints.

Types of Exercise

The different types of exercises that people can normally include in a regular exercise program are the following:

  • Cardiovascular, or “cardio,” exercises
  • Strength exercises
  • Endurance and flexibility exercises

Cardiovascular exercises are exercises that increase the heart rate. These exercises generally include movement of the large muscles that sustain the heart rate at up to 50 percent of the maximum recommended level of heart rate, over a particular period while exercising.

Examples of simple cardiovascular exercises include running, walking, and swimming, as well as riding a bicycle. Most of the typical cardio workouts include movement of the lower body (large muscle groups). However, people with disabilities that prevent them from exercising the lower body can perform cardio workouts that affect the upper body instead. One example would be swimming with an assistant.

Strength exercises are the ones that increase muscle mass. Building muscles with regular strength exercises can make a very significant difference in the ability to do a large number of daily activities easier. Some examples of strength exercises are wrist and arm curls, chair dips, knee curls, toe stands, and back leg raises.

Strength exercises are some of the most commonly recommended types of exercise for people with disabilities, including exercises with dumbbells, such as bicep curls.

Endurance and flexibility exercises are also very important to be included in a training program, including for people with disabilities. Flexibility refers to the range of movement that muscles can make. It can be enhanced by endurance of the body and the muscle strength.

Flexibility exercises can include stretching, running, or weight lifting. Examples of stretching can be a neck stretch, hamstring stretch, arm stretch, knee lift, and thigh stretch. Most of these can be performed by people with disabilities, as well.

Even though running is typically considered a cardiovascular exercise, it also increases the endurance of the muscles and thus helps flexibility as well. In addition, muscle strength is increased with exercises such as weight lifting, which is why weight lifting is also recommended to improve flexibility.

Setting up a program of regular exercise is very important for everyone. All exercise routines should start with a warm up, followed by the actual exercises. The program needs to include cardio, strength, and flexibility exercises.

Each type of exercises should be performed on different days of the week. A specific duration of each exercise needs to be followed in order to provide the body with enough time to recover. Therefore, there should also be days of the week where there are no exercises. An example schedule might include three days of cardio workouts alternating with two days of strength training and two days of rest.

National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability is a public resource center for health practice and health promotion for anyone in the country who has a disability. The major goal of the center is to build healthy communities for all people. Other goals include:

  • Promoting health communication
  • Professional training
  • Creating inclusive programs

You can contact the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability at:

4000 Ridgeway Drive
Birmingham, AL 35209
Or, call them toll free at 1-800-900-8086 or fax to 1-205-313-7475 

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