5 Best Wheelchair Exercises to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution

Is your New Year’s resolution to be more active in 2016? This is a very popular goal around this time of year, but unfortunately this can be difficult to achieve if you have a disability. Most gyms are not entirely accessible, making working out at them difficult for those in a wheelchair. But we’re here to help!

There are many workouts that you can do in a wheelchair, and many can be done anywhere with little-to-no equipment. Here are our 5 favorite wheelchair workouts to get the juices flowing this year.

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  1. Wheelchair yoga

Supports: joints, back, flexibility, stress level, sleep, breathing

Nothing is more beneficial for your comfort than yoga. Yoga is a full-body workout that combines different stretches with relaxation and self-reflection. There are different workout programs that emphasize different muscles and parts of the body, and combining these programs to the best of your ability is a great way to increase your daily comfort level and get in great shape.

Several poses that you can do while seated are: cat pose, cow pose, eagle pose, forward bend, leg stretch, hip stretch, back twist, and side stretch.

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability is a great resource for Wheelchair Yoga.

 

  1. Resistance band curls

Supports: shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists

Having arm strength and mobility is crucial if you are in a wheelchair. This is the key to getting around and doing many things that you need to do throughout the day. While dumbbells are heavier and are likely to provide you with more strength, resistance bands can be conveniently attached to your wheelchair allowing you to exercise anywhere, anytime!

Attach two resistance bands to your chair and use them for bicep curls. Grasp the handle of the band and curl your fist up to touch your bicep. Alternatively, you can cross your arm to the opposite shoulder for a cross-body curl.

 

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  1. Water aerobics

Supports: joints, lower body strength, circulation, heart

Aquatic exercise is an excellent way to protect your stiff joints from the stress of exercise, or to relax your body while still being active. Many sports rehabilitation centers have therapy pools, which are designed for wheelchairs and equipment that will allow you to perform many exercises.

Therapy pools are also great because of their shallow, warm water. The force of this water on your body moves blood more effectively from your limbs to your heart, which is excellent for your cardiovascular health. Water aerobics are also great because they give a rare opportunity to strengthen your lower body, which fights off general aches and stiffness that can come with being in a wheelchair.

 

  1. Seated Row

Supports: upper and lower back, biceps, upper-body mobility, overall strength

If you are really serious about strengthening your upper body and back, rows are one of the best ways to do so. Pulling weight backwards works out your entire back, and it also targets your biceps. Both of these areas are crucial for wheelchair mobility, and having them as strong as possible will be very beneficial for you.

Rows are also a great way to strengthen your core, as this is an entirely upper-body workout. This will keep you limber and strong. Start with a lighter amount of weight, and gradually work your way up to heavier weights. Three sets of eight is a great place to start, allowing your body to exert energy and then rest, and then exert energy again. Your muscles will thank you.

 

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  1. Wheelchair sports

Supports: cardiovascular health, arm strength, endurance, depression

Easily the most fun form of exercise, organized sports are a great way to get out-and-about while increasing your level of health. Sports are great for strengthening your muscles and raising your endurance. Also, getting involved in sports is a great way to fight depression and anxiety.

Most importantly, improving your cardiovascular health is the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Raising your heart rate through exercise strengthens your heart muscles, which can reduce the risk of heart disease or hypertension. It also increases lung function and boosts your metabolism, helping you to lose weight (if this is a secondary goal!).

There are plenty of sports leagues in Northeast Ohio to join, with everything from hockey to basketball, and archery to skiing. We are proud supporters of the following organizations in Ohio: AdaptiveSports Ohio, The Adaptive Adventure Sports Coalition, Miami Valley Adaptive Sports, Ohio Sled Hockey, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Youth Challenge Sports. These are all great places to find sports and recreation leagues for those with physical disabilities!

 

To best improve your fitness level and overall health, it’s best to exercise a minimum of three times per week. Don’t be afraid to push yourself and try new things, and keep mixing things up so that your body strengthens in many different years. Make this the year that you get serious about exercise!

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