Exercising is vital for improving and maintaining good physical and mental health. Exercise for wheelchair users increases energy, improves muscle tone and gives better coordination.
How do I choose a type of exercise?
We all want to reduce stress, improve our health and have fun – what better way than exercise? It’s free and as long as you keep motivated, it can easily become part of your regular routine. When choosing an exercise programme or sport, it’s a good idea to choose something that you like the look of, something that intrigues or interests you. By choosing something that you are likely to enjoy from the offset, you are more likely to stick with it.
Some considerations for choosing the right wheelchair exercise for you:
- What type of wheelchair exercise best fits my condition?
- Will I enjoy this sport or exercise?
- Can I do this exercise on my own and if not, can I get the right regular support (either equipment or people)?
- How much time can I set aside for this exercise each week?
You can do some research on your own or seek the help of a friend, relative or use social media to help find the right sport or type of exercise for you. You can also try contacting local clubs to try out your idea.
If you have not exercised before you should always consult with your doctor, or a suitable medical professional to ensure the type of exercise is suitable for you.
Benefits of wheelchair exercise
Wheelchair exercise has so many benefits, including:
- Increased muscle tone
- Improved fitness
- Better overall health
- Easier weight control
- Alleviation of digestion problems commonly associated with sitting in a fixed position in a wheelchair
- Improved blood circulation
- Better posture and improved stability of your spine and lower back
- Existing complaints – such as an aching neck, shoulders and back –may be eased by strengthening these areas
- Increased endorphins, which, in turn, create a sense of well-being and assist with improving mood, reducing tension and preventing depression
- Greater independence and autonomy
- Your increased independence, improved state of mind, physique and positive frame of mind will better prepare you for the challenges of everyday life.
It’s important to always be sure to warm up in order to lessen the risk of injury. Unfortunately, arm injuries can often be easily sustained when practicing wheelchair sports, along with incidences of tendinitis. Practicing daily stretching exercises will help to reduce accumulated stress, pain and muscular strains.
Wheelchair based strength and resistance exercises
To start with you could use free weights or ‘body building’ style machines. Both of these will help to strengthen the arms and the core – the areas of the body most commonly engaged when manually controlling a wheelchair. You could try push-ups by placing your hands to the sides of your buttocks and then trying to lift your weight from the seat of the wheelchair.
Wheelchair based aerobic and cardiovascular training
This type of exercise aims to raise your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular health. Sports such as wheelchair basketball and rugby are great examples, although there are less physical options such as dancing. You could even participate in wheelchair-based aerobic training on the running track. This will certainly improve your heart rate, as well as providing a workout for your arms.
Wheelchair based exercises to improve flexibility
Exercises such as yoga can be performed in a wheelchair and are designed to improve flexibility whilst helping to improve your breathing and concentration. Exercise doesn’t always have to be high-octane to be beneficial and many report feeling calmer and more relaxed after performing yoga.
At Solutions Mobility, we have a wide range of wheelchairs, powerchairs, mobility scooters, parts and accessories and can help you find the right chair for you. You can start shopping now or contact us for assistance.