Exercise With Minimal Effort

Posted by Kristin Beale in Life After Paralysis on October 24, 2022 # Lifestyle

I’m a huge fan of forming healthy habits that I can incorporate into my already-found routines. Little tweaks to the stuff I already do that’ll add and squeeze out all the benefits I can get. My reasoning is a beautiful combination of laziness and good intention: I want to do things that’ll help me but, ideally, I don’t want to go out of my way too much to do them.

My work as a full-time author means I spend the majority of my every day in front of my computer. And we all know how generally awful that can be for our body parts (eyes, metabolism, upper body muscles, spine misalignment, etc.). So, as often as I remember, I incorporate some simple exercises/habits into my routine, with hopes to counter some of that overall harm I’m doing.

  1. Good posture. I’m starting off with the best and easiest habit to form: sit up straight and stand up tall. Sitting straight up is a way of making myself feel better about being in front of my computer for continuous hours, or in front of the television for a few episodes in a row. I might be dipping my hand in a bowl of potato chips while I sit tall in my chair or on the couch, but my excellent posture means I’m keeping my spine and musculoskeletal system strong; preventing pain in my shoulders and neck and using my core muscles so they don’t fade away. See? That’s how we justify. Good posture is a very simple way of keeping our bodies in check, especially for my fellow wheelchair users.
  2. Try not to lean on your chair back. I first tried this one while I was driving my car, but I quickly realized that while driving isn’t the safest place to challenge my core. Lesson learned. Instead, I intermittently sit in front of my wheelchair cushion while I’m stuck working in front of a computer. I don’t lean against the wall when I sit on the bench in my shower. Before transferring out of bed in the mornings, I spend about 5 minutes sitting at the edge, working on my balance.
  3. Reach high and far. I’m not suggesting you put all your stuff high up and hard-to-reach, because that doesn’t make sense. Rather, I’m suggesting you keep some items you don’t use every day, farther up (or back). Reaching for things is an exercise in flexibility, and your flexibility will help enhance your range of motion, prevent injury, and reduce pain and stiffness.
  4. Walking squats. For my able-bodies friends, this is an easy one. On your way to the pantry to get those potato chips (ha!), dip your body down into one or two squats. Make that small exercise a habit, and you’ll be on your way to stronger hip, calf, hamstring, and oblique muscles. You might also get a fun reputation around the office when people see your head bobbing up and down above their cubicle wall.

The biggest win here: these are all things you’re already doing, just with a strengthening or healthful twist. My favorite on this list is sitting and balancing independently of a lean against my shower wall. It gets tricky when I scrub soap in my hair and have to move around to wash my cheeks, but that challenge is the fun of it.

Exercising your body doesn’t have to be a drag, and it doesn’t have to require a lot of extra effort. The trick is to find an exercise (sport) you enjoy doing, or to add a twist to the things you’re already doing. In the name of benefitting your strength and/or flexibility, pinch your shoulder blades back, hold your head tall, and suck in that belly. Your body will thank you.

Kristin Beale is a native of Richmond, Virginia. She is the author of two books, Greater Things and A Million Suns, and a comic book, Date Me. Check them out and read an excerpt at https://kristinbeale.com/. Her comics can be found on Instagram @Greater.Things.Comics.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.