We can’t live healthily without being active, even if we face limited mobility. So here are the basics of exercise for seniors in wheelchairs.
Exercise is a crucial necessity in every human being’s life, for both their health and mental well being. This is even more true for those with limited mobility, and for seniors using wheelchairs.
Whether mobility aid is just an occasional aid or a permanent part of everyday life, seniors with wheelchairs should strive to engage in physical activity.
The benefits are tremendous; apart from a longer life expectancy in general, exercise reduces the risk of strokes, heart attacks, and dementia, as well as improving bone density and improving confidence and independence.
For seniors in wheelchairs, exercise specifically improves muscle strength, energy, and stamina.
All of these benefits greatly impact and can improve a senior’s overall quality of life with the use of a few types of activities and the right equipment.
Equipment And Aids For Wheelchair Users
Resistance bands are helpful for flexibility, strength, and cardio exercises and can be performed from a seated position.
These, along with hand weights, can allow for a variety of workouts that can be done from the comfort of home or even in front of a television.
If getting out of the house is a better motivator for senior’s physical goals, look for ADA compliant gyms. Their standing equipment is built to easily allow anyone in a wheelchair to access all of the features of the machine.
Accessible gyms often may have a variety of other amenities, such as wheelchair accessible pools and classes geared toward those with limited mobility.
A transport wheelchair can provide a lightweight solution for environments that are not suited for a manual or power wheelchair.
The smaller, lighter frame of transport wheelchairs allow them to fit in ADA gym equipment. These types of chairs also significantly aid a caregiver who may be helping with the exercise.
The disadvantage to transport wheelchairs is that they require assistance for the user to move.
However, those with limited mobility, and especially seniors, should not pursue any physical activity without an instructor, caregiver, or companion present.
These exercise partners are then able to assist with mobility during any activity while keeping their wheelchair-using partner safe.
Types Of Activity You Can Perform In A Wheelchair
Even if you’re in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. There are a lot of exercises you can do while sitting. Here are six types of exercise for seniors in wheelchairs:
1. Use Resistance Bands
For cardiovascular and strength training, resistance work is a simple and accessible exercise requiring few tools.
Attaching a resistance band to a piece of furniture allows a senior to perform exercises in succession or for a single, prolonged amount of time.
2. Lift Light Weights
Weight training can similarly be done in succession or with individual lifts of simple hand weights.
3. Go Into The Pool
If there is access to a wheelchair-accessible pool, hydrotherapy is an excellent therapeutic activity. Water aerobics classes are also great exercise alternatives for those with some leg function.
4. Use A Rowing Machine
Some gyms may have arm cycling or tabletop rowing equipment. Using either of these tools targets the widest range of muscle groups and provides resistance and strength training.
If unavailable at a gym, they can also be purchased and installed for home use.
5. Do Arm And Back Stretches
Stretching and flexibility are crucial for anyone limited in their mobility, and even more so for seniors who spend much of their day sitting down.
6. Do Yoga
Chair yoga is a type of yoga adapted to aid a range of mobility issues. The techniques used alters traditional yoga poses to better serve the needs of those practicing and is taught all over the globe.
Mobility limitations do not mean exercise is impossible, just that it needs to be adapted to an individual’s needs.
The benefits of physical activity are too tremendous to ignore and can be achieved by anyone, regardless of their physical restrictions. These tools and ideas can help an elderly wheelchair user start to focus on their fitness and improve their overall health.