As a wheelchair user, getting active can provide significant health benefits and assist you in managing your everyday life.
Aerobic activity that elevates your heart rate and makes you sweat and muscle-strengthening exercise are just as vital for wheelchair users’ health and welfare as they are for other people.
There will be an activity or sport to suit your tastes and level of physical competence.
Physical activity does not have to entail going to the gym or participating in a competitive sport, though these are excellent possibilities. Training can take many forms and occur in a variety of settings.
Choose activities that boost your heart health and physical strength to improve your health.
All individuals aged 19 to 64, including wheelchair users, are urged to do the following for their general health:
- 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week, plus
- Two or more days per week, strength exercises
It’s less necessary to hit these targets right away than to perform something active that you enjoy.
Why should you become more active?
Physical activity is beneficial to both physical and mental health, and it may also be a fun way to meet new people.
More information can be found in the Exercise Benefits section.
Using a wheelchair can do cardiovascular physical exercise that elevates your heart rate more difficult.
Maneuvering or pushing a wheelchair can impose a lot of effort on certain muscles in the upper body, increasing the risk of strains and other injuries.
Muscle-strengthening exercises will help you manage your wheelchair in everyday life and avoid problems like these.
What kind of activities are you talking about?
The activities that are suited for you are determined by your level of physical ability and the types of activities that you enjoy.
You may want to improve certain aspects of physical function to help with day-to-day tasks.
You could want to enhance your fitness or participate in a competitive activity.
You can perform exercises to enhance your fitness regardless of your physical ability or confidence.
Exercise for the heart and lungs
Cardiovascular exercise can be done in a wheelchair in a variety of ways.
The idea is to raise your heart rate and warm up to the point of sweating.
It would help if you were slightly out of breath but not to be unable to carry on a conversation or sing a song.
Start with 10-minute sessions if you’re new to exercise or haven’t done so in a while, then work your way up to 20 minutes.
When it comes to muscle-strengthening exercises, particular muscle groups should be prioritized.
The repeated pushing motion required to move a wheelchair can create chest and shoulder muscle tension and injury.
Meanwhile, the back muscles that aren’t employed in this pushing motion may weaken due to their inactivity.
As a result, focusing on workouts that strengthen the smaller muscles that support the pushing motion, such as the shoulder muscles, is a smart option. This can assist you in avoiding getting hurt.
Pull-ups and other exercises that involve a pulling motion can also improve the back muscles.
Muscle-strengthening exercises can be performed at gyms equipped for wheelchair users.
Resistance bands can be used at home to undertake muscle-strengthening exercises, according to some wheelchair users.
There are several resources available to help you learn more about activities that are suited for you and locate nearby facilities.
- Parasport is a non-profit dedicated to assisting disabled persons in participating in sports; utilize the Parasport self-assessment wizard to determine which activities are best for you.
- The Inclusive Fitness Initiative (IFI) is a program administered by the Activity Alliance that ensures gyms are accessible to individuals with impairments. The Activity Alliance website can help you find a nearby IFI gym.
- According to the Disability Discrimination Act, your local leisure center must ensure that wheelchair users have access. If you have any questions about your local recreation center, such as what special equipment they have or if they have special sessions for wheelchair users, give them a call ahead of time and ask.