How to exercise in your powered wheelchair

The decision to purchase a wheelchair should not be taken lightly, and you must do your research to ensure you choose the most suitable chair – particularly for daily use. For instance, those who obtain a chair through NHS wheelchair services will need to choose a chair that can last five years, before they are prescribed a new one. Therefore, you must consider all aspects of manual wheelchairs or powered wheelchairs; including positioning, seating, wheels and even customisable wheelchair accessories.

As such, we are discussing the pros and cons of both powered wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs to ensure you settle for the right chair for your needs.

Why you should get active?

All manual and powered wheelchairs users will find increased health benefits should you look into getting active. Regular aerobic wheelchair exercises and muscle strengthening tips are just as important for those in wheelchairs, as they are for other adults.

Physical activity certainly doesn’t have to mean strenuous sports, but activities and exercises to suit your abilities and even begin to improve flexibility. While it might be something we all find difficult to include in our days, but keeping yourself motivated is essential.

Regular wheelchair exercises can vastly improve your health and mood, also offering you the opportunity to release any strength and, even, have some fun. It’s important that you choose wheelchair fitness ideas that appeal to you and make the exercise more enjoyable. Once you have chosen your particular limited mobility exercises, we suggest including it in a regular routine and you’ll begin noticing the difference; both in your physical and mental health.

Before you do settle on your powered wheelchair exercises, speak to your GP to ensure your body is capable of handling the exercises. Their advice is essential to improving your physical abilities and they can provide the most suitable advice for improving your fitness.


The benefits of wheelchair exercises

Those using powered wheelchairs can substantially benefit from wheelchair fitness. Primarily, you will notice increased muscle tone with limited mobility exercises – particularly if you focus on your upper body, or are unable to exercise your legs. Similarly, you will benefit from better fitness, overall health and weight control, which can prove difficult for those that use their powered wheelchair daily.

Likewise, there are other advantages to wheelchair exercises, such as an alleviation of any digestive problems. It’s possible that those who use powerchairs every day will suffer from these issues, as well as poor blood circulation and posture. If you do manage small wheelchair exercises every other day, you will, likely, notice improved stability for your spine and neck. Also, you reduce the risk of any pressure sores with minor movements, which can greatly enhance your experience in using powered wheelchairs.

Most importantly, your increased independence can improve your mental health – particularly if, perhaps, you are struggling to adapt to using a powerchair. Better physique and frame of mind will help to prepare you for any challenges.

Before you do take up wheelchair fitness, you must understand the importance of warming up, especially if you haven’t undertaken any fitness in recent months. You need to do so to lessen the risk of any arm injuries; aim to practice daily stretching to ease you back into an active life.


Cardio activity

There are a range of cardio activities available for powered wheelchair users. The primary aim of these wheelchair exercises is to raise your heart and, essentially, break a sweat. If you are starting out with your exercises, we suggest taking it extremely slow.

As mentioned earlier, it’s also important that you consult the advice of your doctor, to ensure you are able enough to undertake any such exercises.

Just some of the limited mobility exercises that are possible for those in powered wheelchairs include:

  • Sitting exercises
  • Wheelchair sports
  • Rowing machines that are adapted for those in wheelchairs
  • Swimming


Muscle strengthening activity

If you are looking to strengthen your muscles with wheelchair fitness, pay attention to particular muscle groups. If you are using a manual wheelchair, you should be looking to improve the chest and shoulder muscles – especially as they will be under repeated strain due to continued use. It’s a good idea to focus on the smaller muscles to build up your strength and support the motions required for manual wheelchairs. For instance, build on those muscles with the likes of exercises that involve pulling motions.

It’s worth speaking to local gyms, as many offer specially adapted gyms and even trainers that can support those in powered wheelchairs.

If you are looking to get started on exercises on powered wheelchairs, begin with research. Look online for various tutorials, speak to your GP and consult gyms within the area.


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