Exercise and Your Power Wheelchair

By Brittany Laws

Exercise has a multitude of health benefits, we hear it on the news every evening, we read in magazines and new paper articles, we hear about it on talk shows, and it’s on our cereal boxes to remind us when we prepare breakfast. But it’s not so simply for you. You are now confined to a power wheelchair. Don’t despair, you to can engage in simple exercise even while seated in your power wheelchair. Obviously, you will not be running any marathons; you will reap the benefits from exercise without having to go through the hassle of going to the gym.

It is proven that exercise improves flexibility, enhances your mood, decreases your risk of many serious life threatening diseases, and increases your energy level throughout the day. Not to mention, one good habit like regular exercise can contribute to an overall start to a healthier lifestyle, like improved sleep and healthier food choices.

The first step to a healthier lifestyle, motivation to exercise, is the most difficult part of the process. However, it can be very easier than you think. No need to put on workout clothes, you don’t even need to stop watching your favorite T.V show. What you do need  to do, is place the remote control out of reach, make sure your power wheelchair is powered off (so that it is locked in place and you don’t have to worry about accidently hitting the joystick), and wait for a commercial break.

Easy commercial break stretching and exercise:

  • Leg stretches
    • Sit up straight both legs placed on the footplate; raise your heel up until your toes are the only part of your foot on the footplate. repeat
    • Sit up straight both legs placed on the footplate, raise your left leg until it is parallel to the floor, do the same with the right let. Repeat.
    • Sitting with your back against the back rest, both feet flat on the footplate, lift your left ankle to the top of your right knee push your left knee to the floor. Repeat with right leg.
  • Neck and back stretches. (always sit up straight, shoulders back chest up)
    • Starting with your head straight forward nod our head until your chin touches your chest, repeat
    • Start with your head straight bending you neck at the side, as is you were putting your ear to your shoulder on either side. Repeat on either side.
    • Start with your head straight, turn your head side to side, making your chin parallel with your shoulders on either side. Repeat on either side.
    • Keep your back, neck and head straight and in line roll your shoulder to the front and to then switch to the back.
    • Sit straight up taking your back off the back cushion of your chair, hold your arms out the side hands parallel to the floor, raise them both above your head clap your hands high above your head, and reach your finger tips to the sky.

Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous. Basically, you just need to do it. It’s recommended that we get 2 ½ hours of exercise a week, that equates to 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week. If you do these very basic stretches during the commercial breaks of an hour long program that is close the recommended daily amount of exercise. Each commercial brake is around 5-8 minutes, there are about 5 breaks for an hour long program, so that could give you up to 25-35 minutes of exercise while simply watching your favorite soap opera or talk show each day.

Once you have had some practice with the commercial break work out, you can progress to working your upper body with small weights to help build strength. Your main focus, however should always be to just stay as active as possible. Do not exhaust yourself. The most important thing is to go at your own pace and keep your muscles engaged. It is easy to get discouraged from physical activity while in a power wheelchair, but exercise in your power wheel chair is vital to your health.

If you still have questions about who or what kind of exercises you can do while sitting in your PWC? Give us a call at 888-345-1780 to speak with a mobility representative for more tips on ways to stay active and exercises to do in your power wheelchair.

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