Keeping Fit in a Wheelchair
For people in wheelchairs staying in shape can be even more difficult than it is for other people, as they tend not to use large muscles in their legs, use less energy in daily life, and are therefore more susceptible to weight gain and its associated health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
But if you’re a wheelchair user there are still many things you can do to achieve a healthy weight and stay fit.
Changing Your Diet
Dieticians say that people in wheelchairs can often find it hard to work out how many calories they need, as they require fewer than most people and find it hard to adapt to that. If you want to lose weight than you need to use more energy than you consume in food and drink. When adjusting your diet you should ensure you get all the nutrition you need and take into consideration the fact you’re likely to be moving around less than other people and so you will need fewer calories than a typical adult.
Make sure that you eat plenty of fruit and veg, starchy foods like brown bread, wholegrain pasta and potatoes, milk and dairy. Meat, fish and eggs will also provide you with the protein you need.
Being a wheelchair user doesn’t mean you have to lead an inactive lifestyle. Cardiovascular activity and muscle-building exercise is crucial, even if that just means starting out with short journeys pushing yourself in your wheelchair. Or you can get in a special wheelchair accessible car made by Allied Mobility and head to a disability-friendly Inclusive Fitness Initiative gym backed by the English Federation of Disability.
Go swimming if you can, play wheelchair sports such as basketball, netball, badminton or boccia. Boccia appeared in the London 2012 Paralympics and is similar to bowls as players roll leather balls towards a target. It is great for anyone with severely restricted mobility like people with quadriplegia. As well as being ways to stay active and lose weight, participating in these sports can have a very positive impact on the general happiness and well-being of a wheelchair user. So if you do the same thing you stand to gain not just a healthier body but a happier and more positive outlook too.