Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Exercise Options Abound For Those With Disabilities, Chronic Illness

“Show up. That is Rule No. 1 on quadriplegic Rob Simon's list of ways to start an exercise program if you have a disability. ‘Then it is, give your best effort on that day,’ the 51-year-old Simon said. ‘I do the most and the best I can each day.’ The Boisean lost most of the use of his arms and legs when he broke his neck in a diving accident roughly 18 years ago at C.J. Strike Reservoir, south of Mountain Home. After months of hospitalization, physical therapists helped Simon start exercising. He is an unusual quadriplegic because he can walk a bit with forearm crutches, he said. ‘This was a gift, and I wanted to make good on it, Simon said of the movement in his legs.’ ‘I've been an athlete all my life, so in my case, it never was a stretch for me (to exercise), and it's totally necessary.’ Simon works out up to two hours each Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Saint Luke's Idaho Elks Rehabilitation Services in East Boise. He rides a stationery bicycle and uses an arm-powered bicycle to get a cardiovascular workout, and he does circuit weight training. Gordon says there are a broad range of disabilities that keep people from exercising, from arthritis to strokes, accidents and illnesses that attack people's nervous systems. The rehab services at the Elk's help 12,000 patients a year with a variety of therapies, including physical therapy, which can help people with disabilities achieve their full potential. It also offers classes for people with arthritis, one of the most common conditions that can cause people to skip exercise. Water workouts are good because they help people build strength, but ease the pressure on joints. Common barriers to exercise are fear of getting hurt or of looking out of place at gyms, Gordon said. But exercising has many concrete benefits, she said. For example, you may be able to get up in the bleachers during a Boise State University football game or do yard work again. Here are tips from Gordon for starting regular exercise […]”

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