Sunday, November 11, 2012

Top Ten Adaptive Fitness equipment for those living with a Disability

I often get asked the question "What is the best exercise equipment for someone who is living with a disability to have at home to continue to exercise after rehab?"

This question got me thinking to put a list together of what I consider to be the top ten most useful equipment for someone recovering or living with a disability.

While each person is different and each is working towards a specific goal I decided to make the list of the top ten fitness equipment that I personally recommend my adaptive fitness clients to have and utilize consistently.

The cost of the items vary from inexpensive to very expensive, but each one has been utilized consistently during training sessions or instructed for use consistently with great benefit and results reported by my clients.

I also encourage all of you to check out this site will give you information on a fitness handbook that I have designed for those interested in specific program design, nutrition, support, and adaptive sports to begin or resume an active and healthy life.

and now.....

From 10 to 1 here are my top ten Adaptive Fitness equipment for those living with a disability:

10. UBE or Arm Cycle

There are several different kinds from big free standing machines with or without seats (for wheelchair user) to table top models. They vary greatly in cost depending on which one you opt for.
This is a great tool to have to use as a warm up tool to loosen your shoulder joints, improve circulation, and increase your heart rate. I usually instruct to work on a high intensity/ low intensity cycle (30 seconds fast/30 seconds slow) for 5-10 minutes.

9. Gripping Gloves/Wheelchair push Gloves

Gripping gloves are great for those with impaired hand movement or strength. The glove allows you to hold an object to perform a lift or pull when using dumbells or a weight machine.

Learn more about grip gloves here:

Push gloves are perfect for someone in a wheelchair that is using wheelchair pushing for cardio. These gloves allow you to work on speed and quick movement in your manual chair while decreasing your risk of injury to your hands. you can check this glove out here:

8. Cuff weights/Dumbbells

Cuff weights or Dumbbells are an excellent way to add resistance to movement and challenge yourself to improve.

The Dumbbells can be used with your grip gloves.

go to to view the cuff weights and dumbbells for sale.

7. Theraband

A lot of the time your therapist will give you some along with a home exercise program, you can also purchase rolls of 25 yards (you don't need more than that). The order of resistance is according to color: Yellow-very light resistance Red-light resistance Green-medium resistance Blue-medium to heavy resistance Black-heavy resistance.

Everyone should start at the lightest and work their way up.

Go to to order your theraband.

6. Medicine ball with or without handles

I've used these balls to work on core strength, balance and coordination and overall upper extremity strengthening. You can use your gripping gloves if you have limited use of one or both of your hands. has these in many different weights.

5. Gymboss timer or boxing fitness timer

THE BEST TIMER for interval training. You can set the number of rounds and your cycles of high intensity/low intensity and just listen to the beeps for your rest and start times.

Check it out here:

Those of you that know me, know that I love to incorporate some form of boxing techniques to adaptive fitness workouts.

I've talked in the past and have referenced research articles that support boxing fitness using the Wii for stroke rehab. 

The boxing fitness timer can be set for 2 minute rounds or 3 minute rounds and rest periods of 30 seconds or 1 minute.

You can also set it for 1 round up to 12 rounds. I have been known to have clients hitting the heavy bag or working on combinations according to this timer.

Get yours here:

4. Heavy bag with stand/speed bag

What I like about this heavy bag stand is that you can use it if your in a wheelchair or standing. The speed bag can be lowered but still kept high enough to have you reaching overhead and challenging your range of motion and muscle endurance, while the heavy bag is set perfect for you to go at it working on combinations, trunk balance reaching with your punches or just getting some aggression out.
It usually comes with everything in the picture. you can look at the details here:
3. Vitaglide
I know that not everyone is a boxing fan, so for those that are not interested in the heavy bag stand here is a great alternative. The Vitaglide is a great way to work on strength and cardiovascular endurance. Use your gripping gloves to secure your hands on the handles and begin working on pushing and pulling movements on a cycle of high and low intensity with you gym boss timer.
2. Total Gym XLS

The total gym is great when working on weightbearing in gravity lessened positions to improved mind muscle communication and strength. You can also get a great upper body, back, and trunk workout with the total gym.

And the #1 Adaptive Fitness equipment to have is......


Once only available in the rehab setting, the FES bike is now available for purchase. The price tag is a hefty one, but if you want it for your home use it can be had.

This bike utilizes electrodes to assist the user in cycling their legs or arms or both. It has the capability to track user sessions to record progress and even has some game features for you to use while cycling.

Details can be found at the company's website here:

So there you have it....

From 10 to 1 my top recommended Adaptive Fitness exercise equipment for you to have in your home and continue your progression to improved strength, function, and independence.

If you have any questions regarding exercise design for any of the above recommendations please don't hesitate to email me at

The above recommendations have been made to clients in the past following instruction and evaluation of use before purchasing and using on their own.
Don't forget to check out Disability Fitness (Fitness Handbook for those living with Stroke, Spinal Cord Injury, Amputation, or as Seniors) on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or here

I encourage everyone at any fitness level to stay motivated and educate yourself on the most beneficial and successful exercises or equipment that works best for you.

Keep Fighting, Never Give up!