Wheelchair exercise will help increase strength, flexibility, and muscle-tone, aid mobility and self-esteem, help control weight and aid digestion. Many people in wheelchairs still have the upper-body strength required for exercise. Wheelchair exercise will also help alleviate the shoulder, neck and back strain that wheelchair user's often experience.
Before beginning any wheelchair exercise regime it is important to consult a doctor or physical therapist to determine which wheelchair exercises you are capable of. Enlisting a certified personal trainer can be helpful as they can design sensible work-outs, teach you to use fitness equipment properly, help transfer you from gym machines and motivate you.
Beneficial wheelchair exercises:
Resistance Training - uses resistance bands (large, stretchy rubber bands), secured to a door handle, pole, hook or even the arm of a wheelchair. These are pulled towards or away from you to work muscles. Elbow and leg extensions, shoulder and trunk rotations, back, neck and shoulder pull downs, are all possible with resistance bands. Resistance bands generally come in low, medium and high resistances.
Strength Training - with free weights, fitness machines or dumbbells will increase the intensity and should only be performed once resistance training exercises become too easy.
To perform wheelchair exercises safely and effectively: