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Keeping Fit From A Wheelchair

By Katherine  |  19 Dec 2017 11:00:00

 
Happy Legs circulation booster
Happy Legs Exercise Machine
 

Keeping fit or undertaking regular exercise from a wheelchair can be a real challenge. For starters, you’re sitting down and relatively immobile compared to an able bodied person, who may take several thousand steps a day just doing basic tasks. Secondly any physical activity is restricted to the upper part of your body – which can lead to stress and injury in the part of your body you are now most dependent on.

But being completely inactive is not an option if you want to maintain a healthy weight and keep your all-important organs such as heart lungs and liver functioning well. Muscle condition and strength is also important – and your best defence against injury.

How much exercise do I need?

The NHS recommends the following levels of activity:

“Adults between the ages of 19 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-level aerobic activity a week, and muscle-strengthening activity on two or more days a week.

  • swimming

  • wheelchair sprinting, in a studio or at a track

  • using a rowing machine adapted for wheelchair use

  • wheelchair sports, such as basketball, netball and badminton”

What is the right type of exercise for someone in a wheelchair?

Philip Gill is a specialist tutor at YMCAfit, an organisation that trains fitness professionals to work with disabled people. Philip has good advice for the most helpful exercise to do if you are in a wheelchair:

“The repeated pushing motion that is used to push a wheelchair means that the chest and shoulder muscles can become tight and prone to injury. Meanwhile the back muscles, which are not involved in this pushing motion, can become weaker, because they are never worked.

“Because of this, it’s a good idea to focus on exercises that work the smaller muscles that support the pushing motion, such as the shoulder muscles: this can help prevent injury. You can also strengthen the back muscles by doing exercises that involve a pulling motion.”

Philip Gill is a specialist tutor at YMCAfit, an organisation that trains fitness professionals to work with disabled people. Philip has good advice for the most helpful exercise to do if you are in a wheelchair:

“The repeated pushing motion that is used to push a wheelchair means that the chest and shoulder muscles can become tight and prone to injury. Meanwhile the back muscles, which are not involved in this pushing motion, can become weaker, because they are never worked.

“Because of this, it’s a good idea to focus on exercises that work the smaller muscles that support the pushing motion, such as the shoulder muscles: this can help prevent injury. You can also strengthen the back muscles by doing exercises that involve a pulling motion.”

Philip Gill is a specialist tutor at YMCAfit, an organisation that trains fitness professionals to work with disabled people. Philip has good advice for the most helpful exercise to do if you are in a wheelchair:

“The repeated pushing motion that is used to push a wheelchair means that the chest and shoulder muscles can become tight and prone to injury. Meanwhile the back muscles, which are not involved in this pushing motion, can become weaker, because they are never worked.

“Because of this, it’s a good idea to focus on exercises that work the smaller muscles that support the pushing motion, such as the shoulder muscles: this can help prevent injury. You can also strengthen the back muscles by doing exercises that involve a pulling motion.”

Where can I go to get help with this?

It’s well worth talking to your local gym to see if they have equipment and trainers for disabled people. Your local Council owned recreation centre is required by law to provide access for disabled people, and may have classes suitable for people with limited mobility.

What about my weight?

Weight gain can be a real concern, and as well as fighting this with exercise a healthy diet will help. Emotional eating, boredom and one too many glasses of wine will all add to the pounds, and make it harder to stay in shape. Talking to a nutritionist is a good start. Some wheelchair users find their injury or disability also affects their digestion so getting the right diet will help with your quality of life in more ways than one. Minimise alcohol, sugar, processed foods and saturated fats, eat lots of fruit, vegetables and fibre to give your digestive system a boost. Focus on foods that enhance your life rather than foods that give a short term boost but will cause problems long term. This is a great way to take some control of your health.

Diet and exercise are your tools to help minimize weight gain and maximize your cardiovascular health. Aerobic exercise will keep your organs in good condition and maintain a healthy circulation. Diabetes, blood clots, and lower body circular problems can all result from a sluggish cardiovascular system. A healthy body will also help with a healthy mind. The boost you get from the release of endorphins – a result of aerobic exercise – will lift your mood and help keep the blues away.

I’m already busy! How do I fit this in to my life?

The secret to a healthy lifestyle is to develop habits – start small at first, work things in to your day, and build on your successes. Don’t expect to go all out from the start, but work your way up, set goals and give yourself rewards when you achieve your goals.

Make exercise a social occasion – make new friends at a class, drag a friend along for a session on a track or at a gym. And encourage others – there are plenty of people just like you who are too shy or scared to try. You can be their inspiration if you give it a go.

To read more about Happy Legs exercise machine, click HERE

For further ideas and inspiration visit

http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Disability/Pages/fitness-for-wheelchair-users.aspx

http://will2walk.org/2010/09/08/staying-fit-in-a-wheelchair/

http://www.bodimojo.com/?s=staying+fit+wheelchair

http://www.overcomingmultiplesclerosis.org

 

 

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Katherine
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