Staying Fit and Healthy in a Wheelchair: 4 Tips to Do It Right
Being in a wheelchair is never easy, but just because you are in one, it doesn’t automatically mean that all your fitness goals are gone. Life is unpredictable and that unpredictability often lands us in situations that we never wished to be in. Having said that, adversity also molds us into tougher beings, and being in a wheelchair is no different either. Therefore, follow the four tips below if you are the kind of person who doesn’t let anything stop them from staying fit and healthy because now more than ever, you need to be.
Opt for the Right Wheelchair
The very first step you need to take is that of adopting the right wheelchairs. Don’t just buy the first wheelchair you see. Take your time to check out all the wheelchairs for sale, compare them and then make your decision. If they are going to act as your legs and you are going to spend most of your day in them, it is very important to also fit it with additional accessories such as armrests, cushions, anti-tippers etc., so that you are completely comfortable in your wheelchair. An uncomfortable wheelchair can make things worse and will inevitably affect your joints and spinal health. Go with a manual wheelchair if you are strong enough to pull yourself along, as that’s good exercise, but fitting it with an optional motor might not be a bad idea for the times when you feel too tired or when the incline is steep.
You will need help to get adjusted to swimming only with your hands, so do consult a trained instructor first. Once you get a hang of it, swim regularly to strengthen your muscles and to get your cardio in at the same time. Just be careful not to overexert yourself.
Go to the Gym
Yes, you can absolutely go to the gym, even when you are in your wheelchair, but it’s better to find one that’s more suited for it. If you think about it, not having a functional lower body doesn’t really cut out all the exercises one can do at the gym. Pushups, pull-ups, curls, extensions, bench presses and overhead presses are still viable options for you. Initially, you may need someone’s help to adapt to the slight changes in form, but in a specialized gym for people in wheelchairs, the arrangements are such that you will be able to do a lot of the stuff all by yourself.
Buy Some of the Equipment for Home
If you don’t have a gym nearby and getting to the nearest location that has one is an issue, just buy some of the following equipment to work out right inside your home.
- A pull-up bar fitted at the right height
- Some weights and rods
- Resistance bands
- A specialized exercise bike, if the budget allows for it
Just in case you need a bit of real-life inspiration to get started, check out Zack Ruhl on YouTube; a fitness trainer who has achieved incredible things in spite of not having two legs. Always remember that it’s not the muscles but the spirit of the man that counts.