It is common knowledge that regular exercise is healthy for us. Typically, when one thinks about exercising, activities like jogging, dancing, and even weightlifting come to mind. However, as we age, we start to realize that such intensive exercises are gradually becoming less and less feasible, often time causing more harm than good as they put too much stress on weakening joints. As a result, it is important to understand that as we age, the types of exercises we can do change as well. This is especially true for older adults who tend to have limited mobility, with some even confined to wheelchairs. These limitations effectively rule out conventional exercises targeting the cardiovascular system as viable means of keeping fit and healthy. But, this does not mean that you cannot keep up an active lifestyle with wheelchair-friendly activities. Here are 5 of the best seated exercises for wheelchair-bound seniors.
Shoulder retractions are great for strengthening your back and abdominal muscles, which in turn help you keep a better posture and prevent the development of a hunched back. To do this exercise, make sure to contract your abdominal muscles and sit up straight. Start by lifting and holding your arms out in front of you at shoulder height with your palms facing down, and curl your fingers like you are gripping onto bicycle handles. Then, bend your elbows to the side, keeping them at shoulder level, until they are slightly behind you. You should feel your shoulder blades squeeze together. Repeat this motion 10 times, over 3 reps.
To increase the intensity of the exercise, grip a light resistance band with both hands as you repeat the steps above.
Chest Squeeze With, or Without, A medicine ball
As the name suggests, chest squeezes serve to strengthen your chest muscles. Before you start, make sure you are sitting upright with your back straight and your core engaged. Hold a rubber ball, or if you are looking for something more challenging, a lightweight medicine ball at chest level, making sure to squeeze it between your hands. You can then proceed to straighten your elbow, pushing the ball forward as you continue to squeeze it. Keep the pressure on the ball constant as you repeat the motion of pushing the ball forward and pulling it back. Repeat this motion 10 times, over 3 reps.
It can be hard to imagine exercising or conditioning your leg muscles when oftentimes, being wheelchair-bound suggest mobility issues specific to the legs. However, there are a few exercises you can try that may help to strengthen and maintain your leg muscles, even whilst you remain seated.
First, you must sit upright with your abdominal muscles engaged. Place your feet flat on the ground and lift your toes towards the ceiling before slowly placing them back on the ground. Repeat this 15 times, over 3 reps.
To make it more challenging, you can raise one leg in the air so that it is pointing straight out in front of you. Keep the other foot flat on the floor as you tilt the toes of your lifted left up and down several times. Lower then foot back on the ground and repeat with the other leg.
Last but not least, it is important to maintain good posture when you are sitting down so much and the most important muscle for such an endeavor is the abdominal muscle. To condition this muscle, make sure to sit up straight and contract your abdominal muscle. Place your feet flat on the ground and hold both arms at a 90-degree angle, with your elbows tucked by your side and your forearms extended in front of you in an L-shape. Keep your elbows close by your side as you slowly rotate your upper torso to the right, as far as you can go. Then, slowly twist back to the center and repeat the motion to the left.