Just because you’re a disabled person, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care about your fitness. And though you may think your exercise options are very limited, they are actually not.
You may at least be able to have a decent fitness routine that helps you stay active and healthy. This may also go a long way in helping you go about managing your daily life.
Are You Using the Right Wheelchair?
Before we get to the fitness advice you need to shift to a more active lifestyle, you need to give some thought to whether or not you’re using the right wheelchair. And contrary to what you may think, the right wheelchair isn’t a particular type of wheelchair that works for everyone.
Rather, it’s something that works for YOU. Everyone’s needs are different, and choosing something just because it’s popular or it’s working well for some others may not really be the best option for you.
That said, the typical lightweight wheelchair does seems to be fairly common and a good option in general. However, if you tend to travel often, and having a caretaker by your side all the time is not much of a problem for you, then a lightweight transport wheelchair may be much better suited for your needs.
So now with that out of the way, let’s move on to what we should actually be talking about.
What to Focus On?
First things first, let us tell you that any kind of physical activity that leads to an increase in your heart rate and makes you sweat is generally going to be a good option. Aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise is recommended as a more preferable option, though.
But the bottom line is that these exercises are just as important for disabled people as they are for those with no mobility issues. However, you would also want to note that there’s no exercise in particular that you need to stick to, at least under normal circumstances. If you find something that you enjoy or are more comfortable with, you can always go for it instead of forcing yourself to follow the more mainstream options.
As a matter of fact, people who are aged between 19 and 64 years are recommended to do at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week. Similarly, doing any kind of exercises that are aimed at improving your overall strength for a day or two every week, too, is believed to be a great way to improve your health.
However, as someone with major mobility issues, you may not want to bother aiming for these numbers as soon as you start on a fitness routine. Give yourself some time and gradually increase your level of activity.
Now, before we start talking about your recommended exercise options, let us tell you that whether or not they are going to be ideal for you would depend on your fitness needs. Are you just looking to get better with your mobility issues, or also gain more physical strength?
Depending on your needs, your options may vary. And while cardiovascular exercise may help you with pretty much everything, you may not want to go for it right off the bat, especially if you have been living a very sedentary lifestyle from a long time.
However, when you’re ready for it, you would actually have a wide range of options to choose from. Yes, there are actually many types of cardiovascular activities that you can do even while sitting on a wheelchair. Basically they may help drive up your heart rate and improve muscle flexibility, which is pretty much what you’re looking for.
A good way to find out whether you’re on the right track is to simply observe yourself at the end of the activity. If you’re slightly out of breath, you’re probably doing a good job. If you feel all fresh and can breath as normally as ever, you probably need to work harder.
Again, if you haven’t been actively doing any kind of exercise for a long time, you would want to start with just 10-minute sessions of cardiovascular exercise. Once you get the hang of it, you can increase it to 20 minutes per session.
Some general cardiovascular exercise recommendations for wheelchair-bound people include:
- Sitting exercises
- Wheelchair workout
- Workout using a rowing machine that’s suitable to be used while sitting on a wheelchair
- Wheelchair sprinting
- Wheelchair sports (basketball, badminton, etc.)
This seems to be a particularly important type of exercise for wheelchair-bound people. This is because due to constantly having to push the wheelchair, some particular muscles in your body may feel strained. A good muscle-strengthening exercise can be a great way to relax your muscles and improve your muscle strength.
However, it needs a slightly specific approach, as you need to focus on specific muscle groups instead of just trying to work on your overall body fitness. You see, having to push your wheelchair for a long period of time may very well take a toll on your chest and shoulder muscles. On the other hand, your back muscles, which are usually never involved in the process, may become stiff and weak.
Hence, it’s easy to see why disabled people are recommended to do exercises that help improve the strength of their chest, shoulder and back muscles. A pull-up exercise in particular is believed to work wonders for the back muscles.
There are also quite a few exercises that you can do using a resistance band at your home that help improve the health of the said muscles.
Finally, joining a gym with fitness equipment for disabled users is believed to help make your fitness goals significantly easier.
A Final Word
Let us repeat ourselves and say that just being wheelchair-bound doesn’t mean exercise is not for you. In fact, it’s actually crucial for you, as you need to deal with mobility issues as well as a considerably higher possibility of injury to some particular muscles of your body.
But make sure you follow your fitness plan with enough determination. The combination of patience and persistence is going to be a key here.