What are the Different Types of Wheelchair Exercises?

Nick Mann
Nick Mann
Athlete racing in a wheelchair.
Athlete racing in a wheelchair.

People who are in wheelchairs due to disabilities can usually benefit from engaging in consistent exercise routines. Exercise helps to promote upper body strength as well as provide an overall sense of well being. Although the disabled may have somewhat limited workout possibilities, there are several categories of wheelchair exercises available. Some common types include stretching, weight lifting, resistance training and participation in team sports.

Stretching is one of the best types of wheelchair exercises to get one's body loose and limber. The main goal of stretching is to improve flexibility and protect the body from potential injuries. Some stretching exercises employ yoga techniques and concentrate on breathing to loosen the body. Others make use of more traditional techniques that stretch the arms, neck and back.

Weight lifting is another category of wheelchair exercises that primarily improve one's strength. Free weights are typically used in a series of repetitions that are designed to build muscle mass. Most beginners start off with lighter weights at first, and then gradually work up to heavier ones. Bicep curls help strengthen the upper arms and butterfly presses strengthen the chest. An added benefit of weight lifting is that it helps to release endorphins which increases confidence and fights off depression.

Resistance training can also be employed in a few wheelchair exercises. In this type of exercise, using resistance bands can be effective as they can be attached to stationary objects. From there, the person pulls the bands toward himself, creating muscle tension. Much like weight lifting, bands with less tension are normally used at first and gradually replaced by bands that with greater tension. This exercise method is slightly less intense than normal weight lifting, but still substantially increases upper body strength.

Other wheelchair exercises include participating in various team sports. Wheelchair basketball is one of the more popular team sports and can help improve strength and endurance while simultaneously providing a social outlet. The rules are the same as in regular basketball and two teams compete to outscore one another. The constant movement from one end of the court to the other is a quick way to get significant exercise.

Hockey is another fairly common sport for the disabled that can provide a means of exercise. Like basketball, this sport requires lots of movement which ultimately helps build endurance. Many cities and towns have wheelchair teams available that can be found by either searching online or by contacting local recreation facilities.

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    • Athlete racing in a wheelchair.
      By: Sportlibrary
      Athlete racing in a wheelchair.