Getting cardio creatively (and cheaply)

Photo courtesy of elmada

Photo courtesy of elmada

I’ve always felt out of the exercise scene since my injury. I used to go to a fancy health club to get my cardio on (thanks dad!), but after my injury, all of the machines there, including the evil stair climber machine, were off limits. There were so many things I couldn’t. Sob. It was hard not to get discouraged.

And in rehab, they told me I needed to figure out a way to still meet my cardio quotient. If you’re alive, you need cardio. That’s just how it is. But how do you get cardio as a quadriplegic? Easy! In my case you just move what you still can, and move it to no end. It may look silly, but if you can get cardio just by moving your arm, then do this, and try to fit it in at least 4 times a week.

In the beginning, I was unsure of how to get it in cardio without major help from an AB or the purchase of an insanely expensive machine. Drop $3,000 on a Vitaglide or a tabletop handcycle? That wasn’t in my budget. And sometimes you don’t want to transfer out of your chair and into a handcycle everytime you want to get your heart rate up. Handcycling is an awesome sport, but not always the most convenient.

What I’ve found is that good cardio can still be had even when you’re in a chair. It’s not a lost cause; not by a longshot. If you can move your arms even a little, you can get cardio. Upper-body aerobics moves are essentially what chair dancing is, and it is one of the most fun workouts (other than sex lol) you can get when you’re paralyzed.

Another easy way I discovered how to get a good cardio workout is by cleaning. Again, a necessary evil, but it totally gets your heart rate up. Whether your wiping surfaces, dusting or even vacuuming, sitting and cleaning is one of the cheapest 2-in1 cardio workouts around. A clean house AND a healthy heart. Has a nice ring to it.

And if cleaning or dancing aren’t up your alley, try getting creative. Josh Blue, the comedian with cerebral palsy, likes to joke he gets his cardio in everyday simply by walking from his house to his car (“I was going to go to the gym, but I got my cardio walking from my house to the car, so I decided to stay home.”). And this is crazy true.

Maybe, like Josh, simple daily tasks are all you need to get your cardio workout on. Try folding laundry, and go up from there. The cheaper the workout, the better. We pay so much for our medical needs. Working out at least shouldn’t be one of these expenses.

How do you workout? Do you do a cardio workout each day?

Photo couresty of elmada

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