Whether you have recently endured an injury that caused you to need a wheelchair, or you have been in a wheelchair you whole life, it can be difficult to keep active. After all, you have to work a lot hard to get around, isn’t that enough? It can be easy to fall into the trap of a sedentary lifestyle because of your chair, putting you at risk for disease and injury. While you may not be able to exercise in the same ways that non-disabled people can, there are plenty of ways to keep you healthy.
Why You Should Be Active
Participating in regular physical activity is great for your physical and mental well being, and you can even use it as a way to meet new people who really get you. When you are in a wheelchair, it can make it a little more difficult to do cardiovascular activities, putting you at risk for disease. Because you are constantly pushing or maneuvering your chair, you can also put a strain on certain muscles that could lead to injuries. By doing strength training exercises and finding ways to get in your cardio, you can help avoid injury from muscle strain and illness from poor heart health.
Being active doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym every day or playing in a competitive sport. For people in wheelchairs, it is suggested that you choose an activity that focuses on improving your heart health and muscle strength. You should be getting at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity with additional strength exercises twice or more a week. You don’t have to be doing this amount of exercise right away; it is more important right now that you just get out there and get active and love every second of it.
What Exercise Activities can You do in a Wheelchair?
When looking for a way to get active, you have to consider your limitations and what seems like something you would enjoy. If you hate exercising, keeping up the motivation to stay active is going to be challenging. Luckily there are tons of different ways to get active in a wheelchair; you’re bound to find something you like.
Cardio in a Wheelchair
The aim in cardio is to raise your heart rate enough to where you are warm enough to break a sweat and be slightly out of breath. If you haven’t exercised in a while, it is suggested to start with just ten minutes and work your way up to twenty-minute sessions. Some exercises you can try are:
- Rowing exercises
- Wheelchair Sports
- Wheelchair Sprinting
Muscle-Strengthening in a Wheelchair
When you are in a wheelchair, there are certain muscle groups you want to pay the most attention to. Your chest and shoulder muscles can become tight and prone to injury because of the repeated pushing motion used to get around. Your back can become weak because you aren’t using it, so these are the areas you are going to want to focus on. Exercises you can try are:
- Resistance Band Exercises
- Arm Cycling
- Weight Lifting
Competitive sports are a blast to be a part of. You make friends, you get active, and you win. There’s nothing like holding a trophy over your head as your close friends circle around and shout with joy. This is something that you can be a part of, too. There are both fast-paced sports and casual games that you can play depending on how comfortable you are with your wheelchair.
Sailing can be done by people in a wheelchair as long as the boat is adapted for it. Sailing strengthens your upper body muscles and gives you a chance to be a part of a team as you sail through the ocean. If you have limited upper body use, there are even boats that can accommodate that as well!
Have you ever watched someone skateboard and wished you could fly up the half-pipe as they do? Well, you can! And not just for fun, you can participate in motocross competitions and show off your skills with your chair. On a professional level, you can find yourself traveling all over the world, seeing sights that people can only see from their Twitter feed.
Tennis is fun to play and a great way to make friends. Tennis helps you learn how to maneuver your wheelchair in ways that everyday life doesn’t offer as well as strengthening your upper body. It is great cardio, as well, keeping your heart rate up as you play.
Wheelchair basketball is so popular there are competitions on a national level. The rules are the same as regular basketball, just without the need to dribble. It is a great way to improve your upper body strength and cardiovascular health.
Are these sports boring to you because you aren’t tackling and hitting people? Then try wheelchair rugby! This is an aggressive contact sport that will have your blood pumping and your muscles stronger than ever!
Is baseball more your game? There are at least 30 softball teams across the nation that you can be a part of to get your exercise in. Like a lot of wheelchair sports, you’ll need a specialty wheelchair to play. Which is a great excuse to decorate it with some team pride!
Track and field can be your sport if you want it to with wheelchair racing. There are races where people test their speed against one another in their chair. To get good at this, a lot of pace training is involved. But if you want to let go and see how fast you can go, this sport is perfect for you!
If you are a water person, water skiing is going to be a blast for you. Building your upper body strength, you get to feel the wind burst through your hair as you use your strength to stay up. This isn’t just for paraplegics, people with quadriplegia can have fun with this, too!
Exercising at Home
Being in a wheelchair is expensive, and not everyone has the extra funds to join a team or buy special equipment. However, there are many grants and benefits you should try to take advantage of that can vary by state. But if you aren’t in the place right now where you can go out, there are ways you can get active at home. Some activities require extra equipment, but not every wheelchair accessory or exercising tool has to be thousands of dollars.
Wheelchair Accessories for Fitness Under $500
This resistance bar hooks to the back of your chair, and you push upward strengthening your chest, shoulders, arms, and back. You can use this anywhere and is easy to attach.
Arm Pedaling Machine
You can get a small peddling machine that you can put up on the table. It is light-weight, adjustable, and easy to use. By pedaling with your arms, you can help get the cardio in that you need while also strengthening your shoulders and arms.
If you have a door, you can use this exercise pully. It attacks to the top of your door, and you do pulling exercises to strengthen your back, chest, shoulders, and arms.
These exercising bands are originally meant for regular chairs, but you can use them in your wheelchair, too. These are a great way to build muscle strength on a budget!
Low Impact Chair Exerciser
This low impact chair exerciser is something that you sit on and lift the bands with your arms. Using different kinds of pulling exercises can help you get a good work out in more than one place.
Can CBD Help Me?
It would be nice if CBD oil could heal the paralyzed or other physical debilitating ailments, but unfortunately, there is no evidence of that. CBD may be able to help you out with other aspects of your health that could make being active more difficult.
CBD for your Mental Health
It can be easy to feel discouraged when you are a wheelchair user. It can be easy to forget all that you can still do because you are so focused on all of the things you can’t do. This type of continual negative thinking can really damage your mental health. You can find yourself depressed and even riddled with anxiety. But don’t worry, CBD may be able to help.
CBD has shown in studies that it offers anti-depressant like properties within 30 minutes of taking it in rodent models. By elevating chemicals that are usually lacking in the brain of someone depressed, CBD oil may be able to grant relief. CBD oil also elevates a chemical in your body called anandamide which also gives you an uplifted mood while also reducing your anxiety.
CBD for your Physical Health
Is muscle soreness keeping you from working out? Does your disability come with a nice bucket of chronic pain, making exercise seem impossible? CBD oil has shown in studies to have a strong effect against pain, helping to reduce your body’s sensitivity to it by elevating the endocannabinoid anandamide. CBD also helps to promote heart health, enhancing your efforts.