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Exercises for Individuals with Mobility Challenges

Staying active is an important component of mental and physical health. However, exercising can be challenging if you have mobility issues. Physical disabilities causing mobility restrictions are the most common disabilities among American adults. Over 13% of adults in the United States are reported to have issues walking, running, climbing, or moving in general. Studies show that over 39 million Americans have mobility problems prohibiting them from completing daily tasks.  

What are the different types of mobility issues?  

Mobile issues can prevent someone from doing something as common as standing up and walking. Other physical movements that can be impacted are running, climbing, jumping, lifting, and overall exercising. Some individuals with limited mobility function use helpful devices such as:

-A wheelchair or scooter 

-Walking with a walker or cane 

-Braces- such as for the knee or arm 

Mobility devices are categorized by being manually operated and used or powered electronically. Due to the size and use of some of these devices, public areas are often required to be handicapped accessible. 

What causes a mobility condition? 

Mobility issues can be caused by a variety of factors- an individual can either be born with a condition or develop a condition that leads to mobility problems later in life. Here are just some of the common examples of causes: 

-Weight Gain and Obesity- Putting on excessive weight can put a strain on muscles and your body, causing pain while walking or exercising. 

-Aging- Getting older can cause muscle and bone weakness, making it more difficult to move efficiently and quickly. Most adults using wheelchairs or a device for walking assistance are older. 

-Neurological Conditions- Some neurological disorders can either limit movements, decrease movement speed, or cause more movement disorders. 

-Medical Conditions or Diseases- Certain diseases or treatments may have a physical effect on a person causing limited mobility or changes in movement. 

-Injuries- Some injuries, such as an injury from a sporting event, may have lasting effects. This can include a broken bone or torn muscles. 


What exercises can be done to help stay active?

The level of activity and nature of the disability or disorder will determine someone’s ability to exercise and what they will be physically capable of. Here are some common exercises someone with mobility issues can do: 

-Slowly standing up and sitting back down (if the person is not in a wheelchair)

-Light weightlifting such as using mini weights and small reps 

-Going for short walks accompanied by someone else 

-Stretching arms and legs to reduce cramping and pulled muscles 

-Swimming accompanied by someone else 


Exercising not only helps physical health but also promotes mental health and boosts mood. 

Depending on the severity of limited mobility, a person may need a friend, family member, or caregiver to assist or monitor them with physical exercise. Joining local disability support groups or small gyms may help increase physical activity while receiving support from others in a similar situation. Staying active and social in the community is a great way to not only stay connected but to enhance overall health and wellness. 

For more details on how to get involved with the disabled community, check out today. 

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Martinez, C. (2023). Disability Statistics in the US: Looking Beyond Figures for an Accessible and Inclusive Society. Inclusive City Makers. Retrieved October 16, 2023, from,around%2C%20walking%20or%20climbing%20stairs.

U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division (2023). Mobility Devices. Retrieved October 16, 2023, from

(2023). What is considered a movement disorder? Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved October 16, 2023, from

Robinson, L., & Segal, J., Ph.D. (2023). How to Exercise with Limited Mobility. Retrieved October 16, 2023, from

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