Keep your body and mind fit and healthy from your chair.
Some tips and tricks for staying in shape.
Focus on health first
Staying fit when you’re in a wheelchair is not an easy thing to do, but it is doable. When you first get in the chair after rehab there is always a stressful adjustment period. You are trying to figure out all the things you’re “supposed” to be doing – dealing with a massive life-change, deciding who you are going to be now, and figuring out how you are going to live your life. One of the most important pieces of advice I could give to anyone who finds him or herself in a wheelchair is to focus on health first.
Weight gain minimization
If you don’t put it on, you don’t have to fight to take it off
Do whatever you can to do to keep from gaining weight. Keeping your weight down with diet and exercise can help you live a longer, healthier, and better life. If you keep yourself to a healthy weight you will feel better physically and emotionally, and make your daily life much easier.
Try something new.
Don’t assume that just because you’re in a chair, you can no longer exercise. It’s true that you may not be able to exercise the way you used to, but that may actually be a benefit. Since you can no longer work as you once did, look for new ways to expend your energy. If you branch out and try new ways to exercise in your chair, things you didn’t try when you were able-bodied, you won’t be constantly comparing your new workout experience to “how it used to be”.
Check out group sports, or do it on your own. There’s something for everyone.
There are many resources out there for all sorts of wheelchair sports, from basketball to racing, to hand cycling, to rugby, and even to skydiving! The best way to go about maintaining your body while in a chair is to try to immediately find some kind of workout base. Look for alternative ways to train, and see what types of exercise you can still do the same way. Many people in chairs can still weight train, and find it to be a comforting and familiar form of exercise.
Eating right is the first step towards consistently feeling good.
Another major focus should be on your diet. Try to eat healthy, clean, and nutritious foods. Avoid junk food and excess sugar. Remember that when you’re in a chair, you are using half your muscles and burning half as many calories – even with exercise. Try to maintain a low-fat, wholesome diet. Eat lots of fresh fruit and choose foods that are filling, but not fattening, such as high-fiber, complex carbohydrates that release their sugars slowly over the course of your day. Also, be sure to drink lots of water, especially if you are undertaking an exercise regiment.
Give your body a little help.
The last major thing to focus on when staying healthy in a chair is nutritional supplementation. Try taking cranberry pills 2-3 times daily to help with the urinary track. Also vitamin C, Glucosamine for your joints, and a daily vitamin are important supplements to add into your diet. There are many supplements out there, but these are very simple over the counter affordable options that you can make a part of your everyday life.
Anything you can do to minimize weight gain and maximize your cardiovascular workout will pay off for you in the long run. It keeps your heart, your lungs and your entire circulatory system in better working order. It also reduces your chance of getting diabetes, blood clots, and lower body circular problems, and helps keep your mind clear. Try to incorporate some or all of these ideas in your day-to-day, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the difference they will make in your life.
Live better. Live longer. Live healthier. You’re worth it.