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disability cardio special needs

Cardio for persons with disabilities

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disability cardioPhoto: Shutterstock

When you think of cardio workouts, running, cycling, and high-intensity interval trainings usually come to mind, but did you know that you can do upper body cardio training as well? Certainly a cardio workout option that is less explored, upper body cardio training is great for those looking to switch up from their usual exercise routines or for persons with limited mobility in the legs.



Boxing can be performed just with the upper body. It can be great workout for those in a wheelchair, although a chest strap is recommended to help you maintain your balance.


A quick search on YouTube will uncover several different kinds of seated boxing workouts.

Alternatively, boxing games such as Wii and Xbox 360 can also serve as a cardio workout that will leave your arms burning and heart pounding!


Opting for a crank bike, namely one that allows you to pedal with your hands can help to get your heart pumping and increases lean muscle mass. Some gyms do offer crank bikes as well, but an alternative is to purchase a tabletop version, which will be perfect for working out at home!


Pushing your wheelchair

Going for a spin around the track in your wheelchair provides an ample workout, especially for the arms. An hour of pushing your wheelchair around the track can help burn around 300 calories!

disability cardioPhoto: Shutterstock


Adapted sports

Many sports such as swimming, basketball, and table tennis have been adapted to suit persons with disabilities. Such sports are ideal as forms of rehabilitation and are good recreational activities. ActiveSG has opened five Centres of Expertise to support para sports and persons with disabilities. You can find out more about them here.


Water aerobics/Pool exercises

Standing or moving in a pool is much more manageable for persons with disabilities. Adapted aquatics have also helped to modify general swimming strokes to suit differing physical abilities. Using a float can help to ease you into the pool environment, before getting into a full exercise regime in the water. 


As long as you’re creative and open to trying out new workouts, there are a variety of ways to get your cardio exercise done. However, the usual advice applies - Consult a physician or your family doctor before you embark on an exercise routine, and halt all exercise if you experience pain or discomfort. As you begin exercising, it’s inevitable to find it difficult, but it will get easier with time and practice!




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