Regular physical activity is good for everyone's health, including people with disabilities. Getting active can help you:
- Strengthen your heart
- Build strong muscles
- Relieve stress
- Improve your mood
- Feel better about yourself
Before you start:
- Talk to your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. If you're taking medicine, be sure to find out if it can affect how your body responds to physical activity.
- It’s also a good idea to talk to a trained exercise professional. Find a fitness center near you that's comfortable and accessible. Ask if they have experience working with people with similar disabilities.
Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activities.
- Choose aerobic activities (activities that make your heart beat faster) like walking fast, wheelchair walking, swimming, or raking leaves.
- Start slowly and do what you can. Even 5 minutes of physical activity has health benefits. You can build up to more over time.
- If you can’t get 2 hours and 30 minutes a week, get as much as you can.
Do muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week.
- These include activities like push-ups or lifting weights. Pick activities that work for your disability.
- You may need someone to help or watch you do certain muscle-strengthening activities. Talk with your doctor or a trained exercise professional.
- If you can, try working on the muscles that you use less often because of your disability.
Find support and stick with it.
- Bring along a friend, especially if you're trying out a new activity.
- If you don’t meet your physical activity goal, don’t give up. Start again tomorrow.
- Be active according to your abilities. Remember, any amount of physical activity is better than none!
Content last updated October 15, 2020
This information on physical activity was adapted from materials from the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines Review Team