Exercise is Medicine
While some experts feel that finding an exercise pill that doesn't require sweating or an annual membership may be a good approach to getting more people with and without disabilities who have a resistance to exercise reap similar benefits as those who like to break a sweat, such a pill is not likely to appear on the shelves of Wal-Mart or Walgreens anytime soon. However, the illusion of such a discovery creates an opportunity to discuss some real concerns related to physical activity and exercise for people with disabilities.
Benefits of Exercise for People with Disabilities
Given the enormous health benefits associated with physical activity, it's unclear why most physicians are not making specific exercise recommendations to their patients with disabilities. Most doctors will tell their patients to lose weight or exercise more, but without clear, detailed instructions, including a referral that a patient can take to their neighborhood exercise specialist who has some expertise in disability. There are many disabilities and conditions in the world and all can be beneficial in exercising. Some benefits of exercising are:
- Strengthen muscles
- Endurance levels
- Physical fitness
It is hard for anyone to follow doctor's orders and even more so for people with disabilities because there is less information available in the mainstream literature on appropriate adaptations and modifications to existing programs and exercise equipment.
Duration, Frequency, and Intensity
Duration: 30 to 60 minutes per day
Frequency: three to four times a week
Intensity: Become familiar with various types of exercise and equipment, and establish baseline and maximum strength. Maximum workload should be 80% of the Heart Rate Reserve (HRR). HRR should increase throughout the exercise.
Modes of Exercising
Lower Body Exercises: walking on a treadmill, walking around a track, climbing stairs, weight lifting, riding a bike, therapy bands, body weight squats, lunges, dead lifts etc.
Upper Body Exercises: arm bike, weight lifting, therapy bands, pushing around a track, etc.
Strength training: weight lifting to build muscle strength and work on endurance levels, etc.
Flexibility: It is good to stretch out arm muscles by reaching across your body and using the other hand right above the elbow to pull across, sit and stretch out hamstrings, lower back and hips. This will increase range of motion (ROM).
We need to take a page out of the playbook of the pharmaceutical industry and examine in greater depth certain doses of exercise and physical activity, similar to medications that affect people with different disabilities.. Understanding the right blend of frequency, intensity, duration, pattern and modality will help us understand what components achieve the best outcomes. In the same way that cholesterol-lowering medicine has different effects on different people, an exercise "prescription" may also result in differing effects within and between disability groups.
Individuals with disabilities and condition is important to exercise so that they can strength their muscles, build up their endurance levels, energy, physical fitness, and balance. Are places that individuals with disabilities and condition can go? The individual has to find a place where they can exercise, that has acceptable equipment in a fitness center that can be used to exercise for an individual with disabilities and conditions. They can go to National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD) to ask for help in finding a fitness center that is acceptable for an individual with disabilities or condition to exercise.
Goodwin, V.A., Richards, S.H., Taylor, R.S., Taylor, A.H., Campbell, J.L. (2008). The effectiveness of exercise interventions for people with Parkinson's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Movement Disorders, 23(5), 631-40. DOI 10.1002/mds.21922
Myers, J. (2008). Principles of exercise prescription for patients with chronic heart failure. Heart Failure Reviews, 13(1), 61-68. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10741-007-9051-0