How to Exercise as a Wheelchair User
You don’t need to have full mobility to experience the amazing benefits of an active lifestyle. If a disability, an injury or other health problems have prevented you from traditional exercise, there are still ways to kick-start a healthier lifestyle and stay active.
Exercise can help improve physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, leading to a much better outlook on life. While there can be challenges that come with being in a wheelchair, exercise can be easier than you may think.
Perhaps you have become frail with age and now find exercise difficult. The trick is to adopt a creative approach when it comes to exercising in a wheelchair, to help overcome any physical barriers and to find different and enjoyable ways of being active and healthy, improving your overall wellbeing.
How regular exercise can help
What constitutes as exercise and physical activity can vary. However, a good target to aim for is around 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Regular exercise or physical activity can help in a wide range of areas, such as;
- Improved blood circulation
- Keeping your weight under control
- Improved blood cholesterol levels
- Boost in energy levels
- Managing stress
- Releasing tension
- Ease anxiety and depression
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, exercise has been proven to help improve physical and mental wellness to prolong optimal health. Read more about the benefits of physical activity here.
Types of exercise
It’s important to remember that any type of physical activity or exercise will offer health benefits to you. No matter what your physical condition, you should to incorporate three different types of exercise or activity into your life, if you can. Some popular types are:
Cardiovascular exercises. These help to improve your heart, circulation and endurance. Some examples you can try are;
- Simple air-punching or repetitive movements
- Traveling a certain distance in a manual wheelchair – if you’re able to use a manual wheelchair
- Using a Nintendo Wii or games console that promotes physical activity and dexterity
- Swimming – many swimming pools across Australia provide easy access and great facilities to people in wheelchairs. Check with your local council
Strength training exercises. Strength training exercises involve using weights or other resistance to strengthen the body’s muscles and bones. This is very important, especially for those in wheelchairs, as unused muscles can become weak and depleted.
If you have limited mobility, you can try;
- Using weights – This may sound daunting if you haven’t done it before, but weights can be as heavy or as light as you’re comfortable with. A few simple reps per day will help to strengthen your muscles
- Using a resistance band with repetitive, sharp motions to build and lengthen muscles
Flexibility exercises. These types of exercises help to enhance your range of motion, prevent any injuries and reduce any stiffness you may have. Being in a wheelchair can often bring a lot of stiffness to the body, so by integrating flexibility exercises into your life, may help you feel more limber.
You could try;
- Stretching – you should stretch before any exercise, as frequent stretching helps to loosen the muscles and warm them up, ready for exercise
- Yoga – If you’re able to, why not try and take a yoga class to help further improve your flexibility. It can also help you relax and de-stress and there are many wheelchair-friendly stretches for you to try
Sports – team or individual. Sport is an incredibly enjoyable way to keep healthy. If you’re interested, you may want to take part in a disability sport, such as basketball, football, soccer, tennis – and there are many more options, too!
Check out Disability Sports Australia for information about how to get involved. With your wheelchair access vehicle, it’ll make participating so easy!
Preparing for exercise
Before you begin exercising regularly, you should seek medical clearance from your doctor or physical therapist, as they can advise you on what activities may be suitable for your medical condition, needs and capabilities.
If you have any more questions on how to be more active or how a wheelchair access vehicle can be used to benefit an active lifestyle, you can contact our team here. We’ll be more than happy to support and guide you along the way.
At Automobility, our main goal is to improve mobility, helping to give you back some freedom. We’ll work with you to understand your needs, along with your family and/or carer, to offer you a tailored solution and provide the support you need to remain independent as long as possible.
You can call our dedicated team on 1300 660 773, or contact us online for an obligation-free vehicle demonstration and consultation in your state. Let us help you to become more mobile and experience all that life has to offer!