The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week to help keep your heart healthy. When using a wheelchair, that number might seem Herculean. However, unlocking the fittest, strongest, healthiest you is 100 percent possible with these exercise ideas that work because of your wheelchair, not in spite of it.
Strength Training: Strong muscles develop strong hearts, and weighted workouts from a seated position still yield big results. Incorporate equipment like free weights and medicine balls to develop arm, back, and core muscles that help relieve pressure from your lower body. Or, use your wheelchair for push-ups and dips and other exercises that use your own bodyweight to build muscle.
Aerobic resistance training: With a focus on speed rather than weight, aerobic resistance training spikes heart rate and transforms your wheelchair into an all-in-one piece of fitness equipment. Wrap a lightweight resistance band under your chair to work your biceps, triceps and shoulders, and wrap it around the back of your chair to perform movements that challenge your chest. Work your back and strengthen core abdominal muscles by wrapping the band around a pole or pillar, pulling towards your body. Begin with three sets of 40 repetitions for each move, resting for less than a minute between each to challenge your lungs.
Fitness videos: A quick search for “wheelchair exercises” on any video sharing site will give you access to hours of diverse, effective seated workouts for all fitness levels. Watch a sixty-second move to add to your customized repertoire, or work through an entire thirty-minute video led by the instructor on screen. Adding 1 or 3 pound arm weights will amp up the intensity of your workout.
Boxing: Burn upwards of 200 calories in just thirty minutes with cardio-driven boxing. Shadow boxing allows you to throw punches at the air without the need of equipment, effectively warming up your arms, shoulders, and core, building power and speed, and pushing your lungs into high gear. For added intensity and muscle development, add a weighted standing bag or work with a partner and a padded shield.
Yoga: In addition to increased lung capacity, blood flow, and overall heart strength, yoga reduces stress levels and boosts total sense of well-being. You’ll learn to control your breathing and your muscles through a series of stretches and holds, which can be performed as easily in a wheelchair as out.
Johns Hopkins Home Care Group is here to help you achieve holistic health. Get in touch with one of our specialists for guidance selecting the best equipment and routines to maximize your fitness today!