Stay Active with a Disability: Quick Tips

Regular physical activity is good for everyone's health, including people with disabilities. Getting active can help you:

  • Strengthen your heart
  • Build strong muscles
  • Lower stress
  • Boost 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 gym or fitness center near you that's comfortable and accessible. Ask if they have experience working with people with similar disabilities.

Aim for 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

  • Choose 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 real health benefits, and you can build up to more over time
  • If you can’t get 150 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 you do certain muscle-strengthening activities — talk with your doctor or a trained exercise professional if you think you need help
  • If you can, try working on the muscles that you use less often

Find support and stick with it.

  • Bring a friend along, especially if you're trying out a new activity
  • If you don’t meet your physical activity goal, don’t give up — you can try again tomorrow
  • Be active according to your abilities — remember, any amount of physical activity is better than none!

Content last updated November 4, 2021

Reviewer Information

This information on physical activity was adapted from materials from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Reviewed by:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines Review Team

February 2017

For more information on physical activity and disabilities, check out: