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Can You Still Keep Thin & Fit With Crutches?

If you've broken your leg or fractured your ankle and are depending on crutches to get around, don't resign yourself to an extended period of physical inactivity and weight gain. The nature of your injury may prevent you from doing the type of exercise you're used to, and you'll need to consult with your doctor about which exercises are appropriate for you and how much you should do, but it's perfectly possible to stay thin and fit with crutches.

Diet and Exercise

As you think about ways to exercise while injured, consider making some modifications to your diet. Losing or maintaining weight is a matter of balancing the number of calories you consume with the number of calories you burn each day. If you'll be spending more time than usual confined to your bed or sofa, stock your home with healthy fat-free snacks — lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Don't eliminate your favorite comfort foods completely, but moderate your portion sizes, keeping in mind that the boredom of being laid up might compel you to overindulge if you're not conscientious.


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The fact that walking with crutches is more strenuous than normal walking works to your advantage when it comes to staying thin and fit. A 1987 University of Southern California study found that people who walk with a crutch raise their heart rates an average of 53 percent above the normal heart rate for walking — and the higher your heart rate, the more calories you burn.

Climbing Stairs

If you really want to get your heart pumping, try climbing stairs — though you may want to have a spotter if you're still wobbly on your crutches. Ideally, you'll work out on stairs that have a handrail, leaning your weight on the rail with one hand while keeping your crutches tucked under the opposite arm and hopping up each step on your good leg. If the staircase doesn't have a handrail — and if you're nimble enough — place your crutches on either side of you on each step and lift your weight against them, hopping to the next step with your good leg.

Resistance Exercise

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To keep your arm muscles firm, use resistance bands or weights and do arm curls. If you don't have weights, fill a milk jug or bottle with sand until it weighs enough to give you a good workout. You can also do wall pushups. Stand on your good leg, a little more than arm's length away from the wall, and push your body back and forth against the wall. Use a tennis ball or stress ball for squeezing exercises to keep your forearms trim.