Foot problems or a recent foot injury don't have to keep you on the sidelines when it comes to physical fitness. Although it's important to follow doctor's orders, there are exercises you can do without using your feet. Performing these instead of your regular cardio or strength-training activities will help you maintain your fitness level until you're back on your feet.
The buoyancy of water reduces the amount of body weight placed on your joints during exercise. If standing exercises are too difficult or uncomfortable for you, a water-based workout can help you burn calories, shed fat and tone muscles without pressure on your feet. Swimming for one hour burns about 500 calories for a total loss of 1 pound per week if you swim daily. Alternate between different strokes, such as the backstroke, breaststroke and crawl, to prevent boredom. If your arms get tired or the workout feels too demanding for your fitness level, try swimming while holding on to a kickboard to give your upper body a rest.
A desire to stay dry while working out doesn't have to keep you from exercising. Another effective option that doesn't involve using your feet is the arm cycle. Similar to a regular stationary bike, the arm cycle, known in rehab settings as an Upper Body Ergometer, is a piece of cardio equipment you sit on and pedal for a good aerobic workout. The only difference is that you pedal with your hands instead of your feet. Many gyms have arm-crank cycles, and you can burn more than 500 calories per hour using this machine. Since your feet are not involved, there's no risk of aggravating the muscles or joints.
As you build muscles with strength training, you not only look buff and toned, your body also burns calories more efficiently. Not being able to strength train your lower body doesn't mean you can't strength train at all. There are many upper-body strength-training exercises you can perform while sitting in a chair to avoid pressure on the feet. Use dumbbells to perform arm raises, shoulder and chest presses, and triceps extensions. You can also place the center of a resistance band under your chair and use it for biceps curls and triceps kickbacks.
Keep in Mind
If you've injured your foot or suffer from recurring foot problems, stop exercising and see your doctor. During your visit, discuss the types of exercises that would be safe for you to do. Should you be cautioned against physical activity altogether, listen to your doctor and sit on the sidelines for the short run, rather than reinjuring yourself and ending up out of commission even longer. Once you get the OK to exercise, proceed slowly and allow your body to adjust to different or new levels of activity.
- New York State Department of Health: Fit for Life; Disability and Health
- HelpGuide.org: Chair Exercises & Limited Mobility Fitness
- Fitness Magazine: Insider's Guide to Swimming -- Pool Workout
- American Council on Exercise: Krank it Up!
- Purdue University Extension: Be Active -- Upper Body Strength
- Georgia State University: Upper Body Strength Training Exercises
- Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images