It can be challenging to burn body fat when you're on bed rest or have non-weight-bearing restrictions on your legs. Reduced daily activity can lead to more body fat, less muscle tissue, increased body mass index, or BMI, and decreased cardiovascular health. However, you can do an exercise routine from bed to challenge your body, strengthen your heart and burn body fat.
Because bed rest is often indicated with illness, injury, pregnancy or other obstetric issue, consult with your medical provider, physical or occupational therapist before starting any exercise routine to make sure you are exercising within a healthy range. Refrain from all weighted exercises if you are restricted to not bearing any weight on any limb. If you are pregnant or have other obstetric limitations, avoid using your stomach or lower pelvis muscles during exercise, as this can cause complications.
Range-of-motion and light weight-resisted exercises offer an effective way to burn fat and help reduce the negative impact of prolonged bed rest. Start with active range-of--motion and progress to adding 1- or 2-pound dumbbells to your hands or 1- or 2-pound weighted cuffs to your ankles. Perform ankle pumps by bending your ankles up and down, and also do knee bends, leg lifts and side leg lifts. When doing leg lifts and side leg lifts, bring your leg straight up off the bed without bending your knee or ankle, and then slowly lower back toward the bed. Repeat with the other leg.
Exercise your arms starting with hand and wrist pumps, and then progress to bending your elbow and straightening slowly. Add arm raises, lifting your arms slowly straight up over your head or towards your side. Try to do one minute of each movement without a rest, building up to five minutes if you can to help burn fat and reach a moderate level of intensity.
To challenge yourself further and burn more fat, perform supine jumping jacks by raising your arms sideways as you bring your legs together, then reverse the movement by bringing your arms back to your sides while stretching your legs out sideways. Repeat until you need a rest break. Even just lifting your arm repeatedly over your shoulders, such as you might do if tossing a softball or weighted ball back and forth with a friend, can elevate your exercise into the aerobic range, which will help you burn fat.
A small tabletop bike, available through many fitness and exercise vendors, can be an effective instrument in your workout routine from bed. Place the bike on a bedside table and cycle with your arms for five minutes, progressing to 25 minutes without rest over time. You can also place the bike on the floor if you are able to sit at the edge of your bed and cycle with your legs, building your tolerance the same way.
- Bone: Recovery of Muscle Atrophy and Bone Loss From 90 Days Bed Rest: Results From a One-Year Follow-Up
- Current Opinion Clinical Nutrition Metabolic Care: Protecting Muscle Mass and Function in Older Adults During Bed Rest
- Ohio State Univeristy Medical Center: Bedrest Exercises for Pregnancy
- Cleveland Clinic: Heart and Vascular Health & Prevention
- Royal Berkshire NHS: Exercises During Bed Rest
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