Exercise for Healthy Living while in a Wheelchair

Those who live in wheelchairs have the same need for exercise as those who can get around on their own. In fact, the health benefits for both groups are about the same. There’s no difference in the warnings, either. Anyone who is planning to begin an exercise program should check with a doctor first and bring up any specific physical concerns. For those in wheelchairs, any kind of regular activity is beneficial. The activity does not need to be strenuous to be helpful. According to the Surgeon General, just 20 to 30 minutes of exercise every other day or so will lead to healthy living in wheelchairs.

Physical Benefits

Just like the so-called “healthy” people, those in wheelchairs can reduce the development of heart disease with exercise. Regular physical activity also decreases high blood pressure, respiratory illness, premature death and some types of cancer. Anyone who exercises will improve their strength and muscle tone as well as physical endurance, agility, and improve their sleep with all the attendant benefits.

The benefits to healthy living while in a wheelchair include decreased anxiety, feelings of loneliness, depression and stress. It also improves self-image, aids in weight management and chronic neuropathic pain. As with any exercise program, the wheelchair-bound person should begin with activities that he or she enjoys. Making exercise a chore is a sure way to fail. If the wheelchair occupant was able to enjoy sports at one time, then an effort can be made to resume similar types of athletics.

It’s best to begin a healthy living wheelchair program with light activity for a short time. For those who have not exercised for a while, five to fifteen minutes every other day is a good way to start. As the physical activity becomes easier the amount of time and the intensity can increase. Health benefits can increase as the exercise increases. As the duration, frequency or intensity grows so does the good that it brings.

For instance, the healthy living in a wheelchair benefits that come from half an hour of propelling the wheelchair are similar to twenty minutes of wheelchair basketball. Watch out for the same symptoms as anyone who is exercising: headache, chest pain, joint or muscle pain or cramps. If that occurs, the exercise should be stopped and re-evaluated. The important thing for healthy living if you are in a wheelchair is to start exercising and keep at it on a regular basis.

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