It’s time to talk about cerebral palsy workout tips! The American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM) defines physical fitness as “a general state of health that results in your ability to carry out daily tasks without getting too tired.” It wasn’t until I had selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery and became a disability advocate — that I learned the damage (often referred to as “early aging”) spasticity, or abnormal muscle tightness, does to our bodies. It can cause a decrease in endurance and walking as well as muscle and joint pain. Plus, CP causes us to use approximately five to seven times more energy while moving, etc., than non-disabled people. It’s no wonder fatigue is one of the common problems reported by people with CP as they get older. Thus, exercise is essential!
Benefits of Exercise
Working out is beneficial for everyone — including people with physical disabilities. Regular exercise can help:
- Improve function + mobility
- Reduce risk of depression + improve quality of life
- Maintain healthy weight while lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke
- Reduce risk for falls, injuries + reduce back pain
- Reduced risk of osteoporosis (a common problem in women with CP)
Do it Yourself Fitness
I’m a big fan of DIY fitness training. My favorite workouts combine cardio and strength. I like to pack as much as possible into 30 minutes; sometimes less or more, depending on the routine. Don’t worry if modifying is necessary — and don’t let that stop you from exercising! It’s easy to adapt most moves to your ability and/or fitness level. For example, I use a chair to do burpees and for balance while doing lunges. Stay hydrated and remember to stretch (very important if you have CP) before and after any activity, especially if you need more than what’s included in the workout. Keep this in mind: The only form of exercise that matters is what you’ll do. If you’ve never worked out before, start slow and consult your doctor.
Many people ask about my exercise program, so here’s the skinny: I love working out with Chris Freytag and the trainers at Get Healthy U TV. I worked out with Chris (before she created GHUTV) to get as strong as possible for my SDR surgery. Sign up for a GOLD membership for $20 for the first year with the code CHRISGOLD20. I also love working out with Lindsey Bomgren on YouTube (warning: her workouts are not for the faint of heart!)
Five Cerebral Palsy Workout Tips
- Start where you are. You can find ways to work out, no matter the level or severity of your CP.
- Do what you can. Listen to your body and don’t worry about comparing yourself to others.
- Use what you have. Whether it be your own body weight, a kettlebell, hand weights, resistance bands, etc. — all of these are great options!
- Choose exercises you love to do. Don’t like running? Skip it. Love to dance? Get your groove on!
- Challenge yourself & have FUN!
Always consult a medical professional before beginning any exercise program. Contact a doctor, personal trainer or physical therapist if you need help.
Working Out with Cerebral Palsy
In this video, we talked cerebral palsy workout tips and much more! You’ll see some of my favorite — and not so favorite LOL! — pieces of equipment (I’m holding a foam roller, which is great for stretching). And, you’ll hear what types of exercises my viewers do to keep their CP bodies flexible, fit and strong! I reveal my upcoming special guest — the founder of Enabled Not Disabled — who I interviewed here.
I firmly believe that a life-long habit of consistent exercise helped maintain my high function level. It’s important to learn about your body and how exercise can help the effects of cerebral palsy as you or your loved one ages. Don’t wait until it’s too late — get moving today! Oh, and check out my 2023 interview with TODAY Show Fitness Contributor Stephanie Mansour here.