Limited mobility exercises

Limited mobility exercises


Posted by: Jake McArthur (Personal Trainer)

Keeping on top of your fitness is not only important for your physical health, but for your mental health too. While there are lots of varied sports and exercise regimes available across the country for limited mobility, without the guidance and expertise of a qualified personal trainer or physio, it isn’t always easy to know which exercises are safe and which may put you at risk of causing further injury.

If you’re wheelchair bound, working on cardio and strength in your waist, chest, stomach and arm muscles will ensure they don’t become weak, keeping your upper body strong, organs healthy and strengthening your tendons and joints. Here are just a couple of the many exercises open to those with limited mobility to support you in keeping on top of your fitness regime.


The use of battle ropes, or any kind of rope we see more frequently in gyms, can be used with a simple variation from standing to seated and is the perfect piece of equipment for building upper body strength. As the exercise can be performed seated, it’s a great way to get the heart rate up whilst stationary and as they can be performed in the gym, outside or at home (as long as you have enough space) the convenience aspect is there too!

Any upper body free weights can be used with very little limitation as these are seated exercises, they don’t affect limited mobility. For example the use of dumbbell seated lateral raises and seated dumbbell curls would be exactly the same. A shoulder press is another piece of equipment that can be used while seated therefore causing little limitation.

Cable machines are also really convenient as they are stationary, they cause no unnecessary limitations. Exercises such as cable fly, cable lat pull down and cable reverse flys can be performed on this equipment.

The use of resistance machines is also common however the use of these should be determined depending on the user’s disability. If the user finds a machine comfortable then we would suggest it is fine to go ahead. If not, your trainer or physio will recommended ways to work around this.

This said, a full varied strength workout can still be done with limited mobility, with preference to free weight movements and use of cable and resistance machines.


Wheelchair sprints involve wheeling yourself up and down either a track, smooth path or gym hall etc. as quick as possible. These can be done either outside or on a wheelchair adapted treadmill, with assistance from a friend or personal trainer at the start and finish.

As well as general gym exercises, if your fitness level is still high, there are lots of different kinds of wheelchair sports to explore, such as; basketball, football, tennis, weightlifting, chair yoga, sailing, rugby, racing, snow sport, water-skiing – the list is endless. For more information on local training clubs, visit here.


It’s really important to get professional advice if you haven’t tried these kinds of exercises before, so you’re not at risk of an injury such as tearing a muscle. Strength and cardio need to be built up, therefore it’s better to start off slow/light and build your resistance along with your fitness levels to avoid injury. The most important thing is working out your preferences during exercise, so your workout is not only effective, but enjoyable too – ensuring long lasting results. You will find that people who don’t enjoy their workouts are the first to give up. Also, exercises that feel uncomfortable need to be swapped for an alternative.

For more information on exercise for limited mobility, book an appointment with a local physio or personal trainer who will assist you with a personal training plan best suited to you and your goals. Alternatively there are lots of resources online for general tips and advice, such as this one.

Please note, this article has been provided as information only and should not be regarded as specific advice to your needs.

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