I am a female double leg amputee that weighs about 400lbs. I haven't exercised in about 20 years. I have a whole host of medical problems and have been told that I have to lose weight. I am modifying my diet, but exercise is the hardest for me. Being so big and having no legs, or artificial legs, has limited me on what I can do. I need ideas on how to do some exercises that can actually help me lose weight that I can do either sitting or lying on the bed. I am also incapable of turning onto my stomach. Please, if you have any ideas I would love to hear them. Thank you!

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    My answer is to fix your caloric intake, making sure that you are eating less than your maintenance/TDEE. Though I can't give you the exact answer as to how much you should subtract from your TDEE. With that said, this is the very reason why I did not post this as an answer. As for exercises, you may want to tell us whether you have access to the gym/park/home so we can give a better answer.
    – Aizul
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 0:58
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    Besides physical exercise and fixing your diet, it is also important to make these changes a part of your life rather than just something you do. Becoming a part of a fitness forum, conversing with people with similar goals was HUGELY helpful for me. Tell people your goals and your progress, their support can really help you push through times of discouragement. You can learn from their mistakes rather than making them all yourself. Also, congratulations! It will be a long, difficult journey, but deciding to start is the step most people never take. Don't quit, can't fail.
    – Will
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 18:25
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    You might be interested in Jesse Shand's story. He was completely immobile and weighed almost 700 lbs. He's now down to somewhere around 250 lbs. There are some details about his diet here.
    – Daniel
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 19:18

3 Answers 3


It's important to get a good start and make yourself feel good about your weight loss project. The most important part of weight loss is eating fewer calories than before, it's much, much more important than exercise in that regard. So don't feel bad if it's hard to find ways to exercise in the beginning, it will likely get easier as you lose some weight, and if you're losing weight at a steady pace by eating a bit less, you're doing better than the majority of people who attempt to lose weight.

Anything that makes you breath heavy (except intentionally breathing more heavy) uses a lot of calories. Is a wheel chair an alternative, then do that. Will walking with prostethic legs be an alternative when you've lost some weight? If so, it makes an excellent partial weight goal.

It's important to remember that as an overweight person, you'll use loads of energy for exercises that are easy for regular weight people. Using a wheel chair might use as many calories per hour as running would do for a thin person.

Good luck!

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    Also important to remember, find an exercise that isn't too onerous. An exercise you don't do because you hate it does you no good. You need effort (and moderate exercise does have benefits for nutrition) but it needs to be within your range of willpower.
    – Sean Duggan
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 21:01
  • Yes, the best exercise is the one you actually do :)
    – Mårten
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 7:27

Well, if your arms can move, you can do something! Anything that involves moving your arms quickly can produce aerobic activity, so it really comes down to finding something you find fun.

If you are using a non-powered wheel chair, simply getting around is a form of exercise.

Alternatively, you can spend some time on youtube and look for aerobic exercises that utilize a lot of arm movements. Or, martial arts forms often have a lot of hand movements which you can do - with a lot of focus on repetition and speed.

Because you are just really using arm movements, you can do this while watching TV even, so you're getting some benefit even when you are "doing nothing".

  • Sorry, but I just don't see sitting around doing arm movements as something that addresses her needs. She's a 400lb double amputee with a lot of issues (caloric and movement), and your answer is a fraction of a drop in an ocean.
    – Eric
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 19:32
  • She already mentioned she was doing diet modification, and I'm sure her physician will be giving her advice on other medical options. Are you suggesting non-movement would be a better option? Movement burns calories, she has two limbs that she CAN move, so she might as well do so. Wheelchair athletes successfully burn calories this way so why wouldn't this be an option for her?
    – Bankuei
    Commented Dec 17, 2015 at 20:49

I’m a double amputee and I’ve gained a fair bit of weight, although it’s sneaked up on me. I know this is an old conversation but I thought I’d put in my two penn’orth. I’ve just started swimming for the first time since I lost my 2nd leg(below knee, the 1st was above) and I’m glad to say I didn’t drown but thoroughly enjoyed the freedom it gave me. I’m trying to reduce my weight but it’s difficult because of a restricted diet but I live in hope. Activity has to be better than the alternative.

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