Fitness Friday: Wheelchair Exercises
Regular exercise is beneficial to our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Exercise can improve your stamina and mood, and has been found to be as effective at treating mild to moderate depression as antidepressants. Physical fitness is important for all of us, no matter what our physical ability may be. You don’t need to have full mobility to reap the rewards of regular exercise.
Stretching helps increase circulation, which is very helpful for wheelchair users. Stretching can also improve muscle tone and flexibility.
•With your palms facing up, raise your arms above your head. Push your arms slightly back and up. This will stretch your shoulders, arms, and upper back.
•To relieve tension in your neck and shoulders, pull your shoulders up toward your ears. Hold the position for five to ten seconds, then allow your shoulders to relax.
•For leg stretches, pull your knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch. Hold this position until the tension disappears, then repeat for your other leg.
Cardiovascular exercise is also important. One great way to raise your heart rate is simply going for a spin at your local park or at the track at your gym. This will also help strengthen your arm muscles.
Finally, strength training is a great way to stay in shape. Sitting push-ups will develop both your arms and core muscles. Sitting push-ups also help relieve pressure from the legs and lower extremities. Grab the arm rests on either side of your wheelchair and push yourself straight up out of the seat. Go as high as possible, or until your arms are straight, then slowly lower yourself back down.