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It has been proven that physical activity is vital to your health. It can help to prevent conditions like hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, depression, and arthritis. Wheelchair users are generally less active than their able bodied counterparts, but there are ways to get active in a wheelchair.
You might want to explore a hiking trail, get involved in playing a sport or even go extended distances to get exercise. If you use a manual wheelchair, you are the chair's only propulsion if you are on your own.
Fear of Exercise to Prevent Injury
The excessive stress on shoulders, wrists, elbows and hands can result in problems like carpel tunnel, joint injury or torn muscles. These stress injuries might prevent a manual wheelchair user from getting involved in activities for fear of more pain or damage.
A power assist wheelchair is easier to push and you won't experience the pain or fatigue that might result from using a regular wheelchair. The built in motors help with propulsion as needed. With this kind of assistance, physical activities are even more enjoyable.
Ways for a wheelchair user to keep active and minimize stress injuries.
Doing This First
Consult with your doctor before you start any kind of physical activity. You will be able to determine the type and amount of exercise you can safely perform. Set small reachable goals at the beginning and do an activity you love.
Kinds of Exercise
Exercises like Pilates can improve your upper body and overall fitness. Another great option that can increase flexibility and range of motion is adaptive yoga. Increase your overall strength and cardiovascular health by using simple resistance bands.
You can add competition to your exercise program by getting involved with wheelchair team sports. Your local community center will have info on team sport activities. Being involved in a team can help to motivate the user, make them accountable and keep them active physically.
You can also increase overall fitness with strength and weight training. Most gyms have equipment that is wheelchair accessible. Free weights work just as well if you don't have access to a gym. Begin with 1 or 2 lb. weights and slowly move up from there.
A power assist wheelchair like the Tailwind Power Assist wheelchair can go a long way in preventing stress injuries to the shoulders, wrists, hands and elbows. That way the user can continue to enjoy exercising.
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