How to Safely Exercise in a Wheelchair

Posted By on June 15, 2018

With advanced technology and medical research, older adults are living stronger, longer and healthier lives. Unfortunately, science can’t do everything for us, at least not yet. You, or those close to you, still need to stay physically active and work towards a healthy lifestyle. If you or someone you know is in a wheelchair, physical exercise can seem like even more of a challenge.

Luckily, at HarborChase Senior living, we are experts on helping older adults live their best lives! Every day we celebrate senior living and our residents. That is why we put together these tips to help you, or someone close to you, get started with exercising in a wheelchair. Be sure to check with your primary care physician before attempting any new exercise regimen.

Get Motivated

Some individuals can be motivated by just the thought of improving their body image and losing that belly. Others need more motivation to get started. One of the most beneficial reasons for you and other seniors to exercise is simply because it is good for you. It improves mental and physical health, reduces heart disease, depression, diabetes, and even cancer! According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, inactive adults with disabilities are 50% more likely to have at least one chronic illness. Not only will you look better, but you will start to feel better over time. If you still need the motivation to start exercising, set short-term goals and reward yourselves once you achieve them.

Establish a Routine

Once you have the motivation you need to get moving, you need to know how to get moving! There are a few different types of exercises all of which can be altered for wheelchair usage.

Flexibility and Stretching Exercises are perfect for warming up and getting oxygen to parts of the body that may not get as much as it needs. You and your friends can start with some simple neck stretches, arm circles, and forward bends. For specific directions for exercises in a power wheelchair, check out what AeroFlow Healthcare suggests. Chair yoga or wheelchair yoga is another great way to do flexibility exercises while sitting.

Cardio is the perfect way to get the heart pumping, the body sweating and to rid your systems of any toxins. When the majority of people think of cardio, they think of jogging, but there are options for you and your friends. For seniors that live in southern cities, this gives you a reason to get outside together and wheel around in the sunshine – if the temperature permits. Other forms of cardio you and your friends can do in your chairs are modified Zumba, boxing, arm biking, and perhaps swimming.

Strength Training may sound intimidating, but you do not have to lift heavy, just lift smart. Lifting as little as 3 lb. or 5 lb. is a safe weight to get started with. Most seniors in a wheelchair can benefit from resistant bands when it comes to exercising in a wheelchair.

Priortize Safety

No matter how you motivate and which routines you and your friends choose to do, just be safe doing them. As previously mentioned, the first safety step is to run all routines by you and your friends’ doctors before attempting them. Other important safety tips include always working out with a buddy and staying hydrated. Be sure any weight lifting you do is in proper form, so you do not result in hurting yourself. Finally, listen to your body. If you feel pain, slow down or stop and check with your doctor.

Exercising can be extremely beneficial for anyone, anywhere. If you’re in a state that experiences warmer weather year-round, take advantage of the beautiful weather and workout outdoors. Get motivated, choose a routine, stay safe and help your friends get into it. Just because you use a wheelchair, does not mean you’re confined to an inactive lifestyle. Get moving and live your life to the fullest!

Check out the HarborChase Lifestyle and ask your community activity director for any classes or programs that would be beneficial to you or your mobility limitations.

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