Fitness For Wheelchair Users – Why Workout?

Rick SanchezSep 19, 2010 | edited Sep 19, 2010 - by @RickSanchez

For me, training became a must when I was staring at 40, obese, and a sedentary wheelchair user for over 33 years. It was time for some sort of action, and action is definitely what I got when I first met Delia Carper, a personal trainer and dietitian.

I realize what you are thinking: Who can commit to a personal trainer? But at this time in my life, I believed I could not afford not to employ one. At my age and with a lifelong spinal cord injury (SCI), I was a prime candidate for diabetes, heart disease, blood clots, continued loss of range of motion and mobility. It was the time to get active and make a lifestyle adjustment.

Carper pointed out to me the tactics to commence a training programme. One option was to go to a fitness club that was ready to buy special equipment. Still another strategy was to workout at home. She stressed that I required cardiovascular exercise and strength training for a adequate exercise programme. Working out in a gym sounded frightening to me, so I chose to start undertaking it at home.

Mainly because I had done no physical exercise for so long, Carper said I required a transition stage to strengthen major muscle groups and enhance my range of motion with the help of easily managed stretching exercises. For a case in point, she proposed taking advantage of my own body weight for movement and enhanced circulation even before trying to use weights. I desired to jump in with weights, however she said I must begin with simple body movements, and as I became stronger we would use some weight.

Remain Focused

As you embark on any workout program, control yourself and be alert to your breathing rate, heart rate, and how you feel in general. Ideally, you want to work your way up to an hour workout session (for example, cardiovascular and weight training activities) three periods a week. An excellent means to make sure you are not overexerting is to get a heart monitor/sport watch at a neighborhood sporting-goods outlet store.

As you start to workout, do not get discouraged. If you are only capable of doing two minutes of an activity during your work out session, that is great. Everyone has to get started somewhere.

Carper emphasized that to create muscle endurance and tone, which will develop your capacity to accomplish repetitive tasks with less muscular fatigue, you should perform exercise with lighter weight and higher repetitions (i.e., 15 reps X 3 sets). To gain muscle strength and power, use heavier weights and fewer repetitions (i.e., 8 reps X 3 sets). As the exercise becomes less demanding, the weight can be raised followed by an increase in repetitions. Arrange a day to rest in between workouts, and do not work the same muscle group two days in a row. You may have to apply trial and error to establish suitable weight.

Bear in mind, you should be able to achieve three sets of your desired repetitions through a pain free range of motion. Persons with SCI must build up the strength and endurance of existing or weak functional muscle groups without causing overwork injuries. By performing a diversity of exercises, you can avoid overuse injuries and achieve muscular balance.

Keep in mind you do not need elaborate gym equipment. Improvise with household things such as soup cans, water bottles, beach balls, volleyballs, or any other practical items in your home. You can also make a modest investment in exercise bands, medicine balls, or weights that can be purchased at a sporting-good store, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. As I said earlier, I was uncomfortable going to a gym so I started out in my home with soup cans, small weights, and exercise bands.

Ready, Set, Exercise!

Before beginning an exercise program, get a physical assessment to pinpoint exercise limitations and detect any probable health risks. As soon as you have been given the green light from a health professional and you have started to strengthen and stretch key muscles, you are prepared to begin an exercise program.

It is imperative that you be given advice from an exercise professional (i.e. a physical therapist, certified personal trainer, etc.) on how to do the following exercises correctly and safely. You need to make certain you do not create any fresh injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, pulled muscles, etc.

We have furnished an explanation of these exercises to help guide you as you learn each new exercise.

The following is a suggested exercise program. Opt for the ones most suitable for your abilities.


Day: Monday

Exercises: Chest, Triceps, and Abdominals with Cardio

Repetitions: 1-12 reps each exercise

Sets: 2-3 sets of each exercise

Day: Wednesday

Exercises: Neck, Back and Abdominals with Cardio

Repetitions: 1-12 reps each exercise

Sets: 2-3 sets of each exercise

Day: Friday

Exercises: Shoulders, Biceps, Wrists, and Abdominals with Cardio

Repetitions: 1-12 reps each exercise

Sets: 2-3 sets of each exercise

Warm up by performing arm circles, shoulder shrugs, or some form of light cardiovascular movement for at least 3-5 minutes. Stretching is really important. After warming up, throughout the exercise program and afterward, take a break and stretch your major muscle groups with such actions as neck, chest, shoulder, and finger stretches.

Do each exercise slowly. You should be able to count from one to six from the beginning to the end of each movement. Never hold your breath while exercising and at all times breathe out on the muscle contraction and inhale on the relaxing of the muscle groups.

Executing one-arm movement at a time, whether using weight or not, encourages maximum motor-unit recruitment and complete range of movement and assists the mind-muscle link. After doing the predetermined number of reps, switch sides and repeat.

If you would like more help to your sedentary lifestyle to one of activity, check out http://www.bodyoffire.co.uk now!

Carole Author Sep 21, 2010

Great article. This just goes to show that for individulas who have full use of their limbs and body, there's not excuse not to get into shape.

edited Sep 21, 2010 - by @Carole28207
Rick Sanchez+ Follow
joinedJul 31, 2021