Everyone benefits from exercise.
For example, 75 minutes of moderate exercise per week has been shown to increase life expectancy by almost 2 years!
It doesn’t matter who you are. The same positive effects of exercise are seen regardless of age, sex, weight, or health conditions. Clearly, exercising regularly is essential to staying healthy.
Of course, the same applies for wheelchair users as well. However, you don’t need full mobility to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Staying as active as possible in a wheelchair promotes independence, physical strength, and emotional health, among others.
Fortunately, there are all sorts of seated exercises out there to help you do exactly that. Here are five ways that you can get a great workout while you are in your mobility device!
- Free Weights: Bicep Curls
Free weights are great for strength training, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re ambulant or in a wheelchair.
However, be sure to take your personal mobility and strength levels into consideration. Similarly, the design of your wheelchair could make a difference too. Free weights will be easiest with lower back support, and no armrests in place.
Bicep curls are a great exercise for working out your arms. Find a dumbbell with a suitable weight. Sit upright in your chair, grasping the weight in one hand. Start with the dumbbell down to the side, keep your elbow tucked in, and slowly curl the weight upwards. Breathe out as you go, until you reach the top of the movement (at chin level).
Reverse the exercise and breathe at as you go. That’s one rep! Repeat this 8 to 10 times, and then do the whole thing twice more!
No access to dumbbells? No worries. Consider performing the same movement without holding anything at all. Otherwise, find an object around the house (cans of food are often a good option).
- Free Weights: Shoulder Press
The shoulder press is another good strength-building exercise.
Again, having dumbbells helps, but it’s totally fine to perform the movement with no weight at all. You’ll feel the burn over time however you do it!
Sit upright and grasp the weight in one hand. Start the exercise with your hand at shoulder height, and your palms facing away from you. Next, extend your hand up and over your head, breathing out. Reverse the move and breathe in. That’s one rep!
Repeat this 8 to 10 times and repeat for another 2 sets.
- Chest Press Using a Resistance Band
Resistance bands are great bits of workout equipment.
If you’re new to working out, then imagine a big rubber band. That’s essentials what they are!
You’ll need to get your hands on one for this exercise. Be sure to find one that isn’t too difficult to stretch (i.e. it has an appropriate resistance level).
Start by wrapping the band around your back (below the shoulder blades), or around the back of the chair. Sit up tall, tense your abs and hold the ends of the bands in either hand.
Perform the exercise by extending your arms out in front of you, with palms facing the floor. Breathe out as you push. Stop before your elbows lock, then slowly bring your arms back to the start (breathing in). That’s one rep!
Imagine pushing a door open with both hands. That’s essentially how the movement looks, except you’ll have the band wrapped around the chair for extra resistance.
Here’s a list of some more great resistance band wheelchair exercises.
- Captain’s Chair (Ab Exercise)
The abs can be a tricky muscle group to work out from your wheelchair.
However, the Captain’s Chair exercise is a great way to do it. That said, it’s also quite a challenging one. It’s generally only suited to people with a high range of core mobility and strength. Give it a go, but don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t do it just yet!
Start the move by sitting upright in your chair. Next, grip the front edge of the seat in your hands.
Perform the exercise by keeping your knees together and slowly lifting your feet off the floor. Bring your knees up as high as you can, contracting your abs as you go. Finish the exercise by lowering your feet back to the floor.
That’s one rep! Of course, don’t push yourself too hard here. Even lifting your feet a few inches from the ground is a great achievement when you first start.
- Wheelchair Pushups
This exercise is great for beginners who want to work out their triceps.
Start by sitting upright in the chair. Place your hands on your knees, palm down, with your arms straight. To perform the move, simply lean forwards as far as you can. The aim is to get your chest to touch your legs. It’ll look a bit like your bowing to someone.
Be sure to keep your hands in position throughout this part of the movement. When your chest touches your leg, push away from your knees until you’re sat upright again. It’s a bit like performing a seated push up.
Once again, you bow, and then you push! Breathe in on the way down, and out on the way up.
That’s one rep. Do this as many times as you can in 20 seconds. Rest, then repeat twice more. You’ll get the heart rate going and give your triceps a workout too.
Final Thoughts on Wheelchair Seated Exercises
There you have it: a selection of some of the top seated exercises for a quality wheelchair workout.
Exercise is essential for living a healthy life. In fact, regularly doing it can even help you live longer!
As a wheelchair user, you might not be able to exercise as you did in the past, but that doesn’t mean exercise is totally off the cards. As we’ve seen, there are a whole array of seated exercises at your disposal.
Keeping up a regular routine will benefit you in all manner of ways.
Are you hoping to live a more active lifestyle? Contact us today to learn how we can support you in that endeavor.