Moving your body is important. But it can be harder to do when you’re in a wheelchair, even if it’s just for the short-term.
That’s why we’ve made a list of some fun, energizing exercises you can do in a wheelchair. You can get your heart pumping and strengthen your muscles while staying safe!
If you have light hand weights, you can use them. If not, water bottles, soup cans or any other item that you can safely hold in your hands can also work. As always, check with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new kind of exercise. Make sure to listen to your body and stop if any of the exercises cause pain. If these exercises are safe for you, try doing one set of 10-15 repetitions each. Do this 2-3 times a week.
Focus on good posture while completing these exercises and rest as needed. Make sure the seat of your chair is flat and that your wheels are locked so it won’t move around.
Focus: Warm up the muscles of the arms
Sit with good posture with your lower body secure in your chair. Stretch your arms out to your sides and move them in small circles. Try this 10-15 times. Then reverse the direction and try that another 10-15 times.
Focus: Chest muscles
Lean back slightly in your chair (if able) and hold a weight in each hand. With your palms facing down to the ground, press your arms straight out in front of you. Then bring them back by your sides. Try this 10-15 times.
Focus: Middle- and upper-back muscles
Lean forward slightly in your chair (if able) and hold a weight in each hand. With your palms facing each other, start with your arms out in front of you. Pull your elbows and shoulders back until your arms are even with your sides. Then straighten your arms in front of you again. Try this 10-15 times.
Focus: Deltoid muscles
Sitting with good posture in your chair, bend your elbows and hold a weight in each hand next to your shoulders. Breathe out while you slowly straighten your elbows and raise the weights straight up above your shoulders. Stop at a point before your elbows are locked. Then reverse and slowly lower the weights back down to your shoulders. Try this 10-15 times.
Focus: Triceps (in the backs of your arms)
Lean forward slightly in your chair (if able) and hold a weight in each hand. Start with your arms by your hips, palms facing in toward your body. Slowly swing your forearms behind you, hinging at your elbows, until your arms are fully extended. Then bring your forearms back by your hips. Try this 10-15 times.
Start by sitting with good posture in your chair. Hold a weight in each hand. Bring your arms straight at your sides with your palms facing up. Next, bend at the elbows and bring the weights up to your shoulders. Then bring your forearms back down by your sides. If your chairs armrests get in the way, try bringing one arm over the side of your chair (while being careful to stay balanced). You can do the exercise one arm at a time. Try this 10-15 times for each arm.
Focus: Quadriceps (a muscle in your upper thigh)
You can skip this exercise if you don’t have any motion in your legs. But if you do, give it a try! Sit with good posture in your chair. Start with both knees bent and feet flat on your chair’s footrest. Raise your right foot off the footrest and hold for 1-2 seconds. Lower your right leg. Then repeat on the left side. Continue alternating your legs for 10-15 repetitions on each side.