In the United States, it’s estimated there are nearly 2 million new wheelchair users annually and more than 11 million people use walkers, canes, or crutches. Those who want to maintain an active lifestyle may find it difficult to do so in a wheelchair. But limited mobility doesn’t mean that exercise isn’t possible. In fact, there are many ways you can exercise to relieve stress, boost self-esteem and boost your mood as a wheelchair user. Let's take a look.
These kinds of exercises can raise your heart rate, but also increase your endurance. For folks in wheelchairs, one of the most popular exercises of this type is aqua jogging or water aerobics. Exercising in water reduces the risk of joint discomfort and muscle pain and with your wheelchair tires locked in place, you’ll be able to focus on these exercises.
These exercises help build muscle and bone mass. In a wheelchair, the type of training you do might depend on your abilities. For example, those with limited mobility in the legs can focus on training their upper body. Likewise, those with upper-body injuries can focus on strengthening their legs.
These exercises are great for improving a person’s range of motion and helping to reduce pain and stiffness. Even with limited mobility, folks in wheelchairs can still do stretching exercises.
Preparing for Workout Success
Rather than sitting with your wheelchair tires locked and not exercising, you can set yourself up for success by coming up with a workable plan that’s customized for you. Whatever your reason for being in a wheelchair, it’s best to talk to a doctor or a physical therapist about what your goals are and what’s reasonable for you to accomplish.
As you come up with a plan, you need to ask:
- What kinds of exercises should be avoided?
- How much exercise can be done in a day or a week.
- What kinds of exercises can be done?
Starting a Routine
Regardless of your level of mobility, starting a workout routine isn’t always easy. One of the best things you can do is to start slow by taking baby steps and gradually increasing your level of activity. Simple exercises may start with your wheelchair tires locked, but as you expand your routine, you can increase your mobility.
You should also expect that not every day is going to be easy. There are going to be ups and downs. Don’t get down on yourself if you have to skip a day or two or if it takes some time to find a routine that works. By sticking with it, you’ll find what works and you’ll be able to stay active.