(Post updated 9/10/17)
This afternoon, I was feeling motivated to exercise, so I put on loose clothes and went through a couple workout videos. Later in the evening, my mother called my attention to an article in the business section of today’s Newsday entitled “Getting a little physical working at your desk” by Sam Hananel. The article addresses the negative health effects of sitting too much at work and discusses exercise methods that require standing to help prevent these issues. Cited in the article is Dr. James Levine, a Mayo Clinic endocrinologist, who shares a rather frightening message: “There’s a glob of information that sitting is killing us…You’re basically sitting yourself into a coffin.” I know it’s true that being sedentary poses health risks, but I’d like to think my wheelchair isn’t just a one-way ticket to an early grave. Articles on the potential health problems that can be caused by sitting almost always focus on solutions that are suited to people without mobility limitations. Rarely do I see detailed information on fitness resources for people with mobility limitations, so I’d like to share some of my resources and experiences.
But first, I have a confession to make: while I was contemplating the idea of writing a post on chair fitness resources, I was simultaneously polishing off a Carvel Flying Saucer. I know, shame on me. You see, I’m lucky enough (or unlucky enough) to live across the street from Carvel, and I have a sweet tooth that loves to be satisfied. While I try to eat healthy whenever I can, I don’t deny myself occasional indulgences. Unfortunately, as Dr. Levine reminded me, even a couple treats a week can be problematic for me if I’m not careful. Because I use a wheelchair full time, I don’t move around nearly as much as most people, especially when I use my power chair instead of my manual chair. To account for this, I try to exercise in order to offset the amount of time I spend being sedentary. Whenever I mention that I have various exercise routines, both disabled and nondisabled people always express curiosity as to what kind of workouts I can do. Although there are several methods of exercise I am able to do, my go-to form of exercise has always been seated aerobics and strength training.
There are plenty of ways to engage in seated exercise. You can modify a standing workout routine, you can blast music and make up your own moves, or you can use workout videos that are made specifically for use in a seated position. I’ve done all of these methods, and as fun as it is to dance around my room to Ke$ha or Katy Perry, I find seated exercise videos to be the most effective workouts. Having a structured, timed workout led by a fitness instructor in a video helps me stay focused while still enjoying my workouts.
Now, if you’re like nearly everyone else I’ve ever spoken to about my exercise routines, you probably had no idea that seated exercise videos even existed. People of all abilities ask me where I find them. They can be rather hard to come by, and I’ve compiled a good collection after several years and tons of Google searches. So, I decided to do a round up of my favorite seated workout videos.
Keep in mind that just because the exercises are done a certain way in these videos, nothing is set in stone. I have enough use of my arms and legs that I really don’t have trouble keeping up with the movements, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I adapt certain exercises to match my abilities. It’s not a big deal if you don’t mimic each exercise exactly. After all, I don’t know many people, disabled or not, who can kick their legs up in rapid succession while trying to clap their hands below their knees. (Don’t worry; none of these videos are as complicated as that exercise sounds!) The point is to get moving in any way you can. If you’re anything like me, doing these videos will help you feel a little less guilty about those adventures to the ice cream place!
Free Seated Workout Videos (some require inexpensive exercise equipment like resistance bands or dumbbells)
1) Jessica Smith’s videos make you feel like you’re working out with your fun, upbeat friend.
– Chair Workout I + II (seated cardio, strength, fat burning low impact exercise)
– Chair Stretch (quick stretch, seated exercise)
– Seated Exercises for Abs, Legs, Arms | Full Length 20 Minute Chair Workout
2) SparkPeople’s videos are short and can be done individually, but when combined, they can be a powerful and effective 40 minute workout. Coach Nicole is personable and easy to follow.
– Seated Cardio Workout: Burn Calories Exercising from a Chair
– Seated Abs Workout: Chair Exercises for Your Core
– Seated Upper Body Toning Workout: Chair Strength Training Exercises
– Resistance Band Workout
4) Pahla Bowers videos share a positive attitude that puts me in a good mood, and she feels very relatable, which makes her workouts enjoyable, even though they’re tiring.
– High Heart Rate Workout with a Chair
– High Intensity Seated Cardio + Bodyweight Strength
– Seated Sweatfest | Cardio, Strength + Abs HIIT Workout in a Chair
– Full Body Ladder Workout with a Chair
– Full Body Cardio + Strength Workout from a Chair
– One Hour Seated Cardio + Strength Workout
5) Caroline Jordan’s upbeat attitude makes me feel like I have a personal trainer in my living room. Her workout flies by!
– 20-Minute Advanced Chair Cardio Workout Video
7) Paul Eugene’s videos can come across as overly enthusiastic, but his loud excitement is secretly motivating for me. You can actually buy full versions of the videos, but he has decent length sample clips.
– Chair Fitness Workouts
Seated Workout Videos I’ve Purchased (require some small exercise equipment, but can mostly be done without any)
1) Jodi Stolove’s Chair Dancing Fitness video series is awesome! There’s a huge variety that includes everything from aerobics to strength training to yoga. My favorite is called “Chair Dancing Around the World.” I know it sounds silly, but I definitely get into it…when no one’s watching! (Check out Amazon.com for lower prices.)
– Chair Dancing Videos
Do you have any awesome seated workout videos that I missed in this list? Or do you have other ways that you like to adapt exercise routines? I’d love for you to share so I can try some new workouts!
Photo credit: hellethom / Foter / CC BY
I have not been compensated for any of these recommendations.