Sustaining an injury or illness that caused our mobility to decrease is disheartening, to say the least. If going through our day with one injured finger is already arduous enough, imagine the struggle if both our legs are immobile. We’d be swept over with anger, frustration, and hopelessness by then.
It won’t be easy, but it’s important to maintain our strength and determination during this time. Whether your disability is temporary or permanent, there are still plenty of amazing things you can do, including exercises.
Staying in shape while bound in a wheelchair is totally attainable. If possible, choose a high-quality custom lightweight wheelchair, so that movement will be easier and quicker.
That said, here are some exercises you can try, and other tips to retain a healthy mind and body:
Exercises for Wheelchair-bound People
No matter your physical situation, strive to incorporate these three types of exercises in your fitness routine:
- Cardio – This raises your heart rate and improves your endurance. You can do cardio in a pool to have more support for your body.
- Strength Training – This builds your muscles and improves your resistance. Focus your exercises on the stronger parts of your body. (The legs if your upper body is immobile, or vice-versa.)
- Flexibility exercises – This enhances your range of motion. Exercises include yoga and other stretching routines.
Before performing any exercises, consult your doctor or physical therapist first. They’ll help you determine the suitable exercises for your condition, as well as tell you the types of routines to avoid. They’ll also advise whether you should take medications at a certain time while you’re exercising.
Once you’re all set, consider these highly-recommended routines:
- If you’re unable to walk, try using a stationary upright or recumbent bike to perform cardio with. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity cardio or 75 minutes a week of high-intensity cardio. You can do a combination of both as well.
- It’s also advised to engage in two or more sessions of moderate- to high-intensity strength training weekly.
- To build up strength in your shoulders, do front raises, in which you’d be lifting a Pilates ball or dumbbells. Start with your arms outstretched forward, then bend your elbows to bring the ball or dumbbells towards you.
- Twist your body from side to side while still holding the weights with your arms outstretched. This strengthens your core and obliques.
- Next, put a resistance band under your feet, and repeatedly pull the other end with your arms. This exercises your biceps.
- Afterward, pick up the dumbbell or ball again, then hold it above your head. Slowly bring it as far behind you as you can without falling backward. This builds up muscle in your shoulders and core.
- To work out your triceps next, grab a bar or walking stick, then hold it above your head as well. Start with your arms up, then bend them down, and up again.
- Perform cool-down and stretching routines after finishing those exercises.
Things to Note Before Starting Your Fitness Journey
Avoid lifting weights if you suffer from high blood pressure. If you’re taking medication for diabetes, test your blood sugar levels before and after working out.
If you’re feeling unmotivated, try taking on a different challenge first. Outdoor activities, such as hiking, paddling, camping, and going to the beach are still enjoyable even for the disabled, so you may be inspired to exercise after engaging in any of those.
Being close to nature is proven to have a multitude of benefits for the mind and body. It has a healing effect on both physical and emotional pain. In turn, you may be more encouraged not just to exercise, but to also love yourself more, not letting your disability tamper with your goals and dreams.