Exercising while injured

Originally Published: July 14, 2006
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Hi Alice,

About 5 days ago while I was doing step aerobics I stepped down incorrectly and injured my foot. It turns out, after seeing the doctor, that I cracked a bone on the outer side of my foot and will have to wear a boot cast for about 4 weeks. My question is, since I can no longer do aerobics, what other kinds of exercises can I do to help me lose weight? I already do weights, abs, and any other type of leg exercise that don't involve me standing, but I don't feel that this is enough and since I am prone to gaining weight easily, I really want to do as much as I can but in a way that I don't aggravate my injury or make it worse.

Please let me know,

Dear April,

You have a great attitude—just because you can't be on your feet doesn't mean you should be sitting on your butt all the time. In fact, studies have shown that exercising can help certain injuries heal faster, if it is done properly and without too much weight. However, since excess weight or repetition can lead to reinjury, these exercises should always be done under the close supervision of a health care provider or medical professional.

In addition to the exercises listed in the Alice archives (see Exercise for the physically challenged and Weight loss guidelines for someone with limited to no mobility), you can also try Pilates or Yoga. These exercises can be easy on your foot and can improve your posture, flexibility, and balance. To start, you could find a class and let the instructor know about your injury or get your hands on a video or DVD and fast-forward past any parts that involve any fancy (or basic) footwork.

If your cast is waterproof, swimming and water aerobics will give you a great workout without straining your foot. It's also a good excuse to check out the pool boy… or rather, the pull-buoy. This is a piece of foam or other soft substance that goes between your thighs while you're in the pool, allowing your lower body to float and making your upper body do all of the work.

Here's to a speedy recovery! And, if you decide to try aerobics again after you've healed, remember to watch your step!