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Aerobic exercise increases your pulse and breath rate, which raises the level of oxygen in your blood. This process helps improve cardiovascular health, clear your body of toxins, accelerate healing, accelerate weight loss and increase overall physical fitness. Large muscles of the arms, hips and legs are used in aerobic exercise. To perform an aerobic workout without the use of your legs, the workout will focus on arm movements.
Exercising in water is a low-impact activity that does not require the use of the legs, and you can burn 400 to 500 calories per hour with aquatic aerobic exercise. Consider performing the ball lever exercise, during which you lie flat and face down in the water with your head out of the water to facilitate breathing, and holding an inflated ball out in front of you. Keep your arms straight and move the ball down into the water in an arc, bringing it to your thighs, then return it to the front. The larger the ball, the greater the resistance and, consequently, the greater the intensity of your workout.
You can get an aerobic workout while seated in a chair or wheelchair. If using a chair, stabilize the legs to prevent movement. If you are in a wheelchair, apply the brakes during aerobic exercise. Possible exercises include the use of a resistance band or dumbbells for various resistance exercises. Try air punching or the use of a speed bag for added intensity.
Rowing machines and rowing in a kayak or canoe can provide a strenuous aerobic workout without involving your legs. If you use a rowing machine, place it on a level surface and stabilize your lower body against the pedals. Keep the seat locked in a stationary position, and use the resistance provided by pulling on the handles. Increase the resistance level slowly in order to build the intensity of your exercise. Do not jerk or pull the maximum amount of resistance possible, which will put you at risk for injury. Instead, increase the resistance level as tolerated. If you row in a canoe or boat, follow similar guidelines, slowly building your endurance level. Never use your greatest strength on the first row of a workout.
Always include warm-up and cool-down times in your aerobic workout. These help your large muscle groups prepare for and relax from the intensity provided by aerobic exercise. Appropriate warm-ups and cool-downs include performing your regular exercise at a slower, more relaxed rate that does not raise your heart rate dramatically, and that you can perform while still able to speak in full sentences. Talk with your health-care provider before starting an aerobic workout routine.