Friday, September 28, 2018

Exercises for the Elderly and People Confined to Wheelchairs

Exercises for the Elderly and People Confined to Wheelchairs

Exercise is something all of our bodies need in order to stay in shape and retain muscle. Over time, people tend to exercise less than they did when they were younger. This could be due to busy schedules or simply a lack of motivation. Sometimes, though, people are in a situation where it is difficult to exercise the body. This includes the elderly who are too weak to exercise or those who are confined to a wheelchair, making them incapable of normal bodily movements. Regardless of your age or physical shape, the truth is that you probably have the ability to exercise. This doesn't mean people in wheelchairs have to go to the gym, but there are alternative ways to stay in shape when you are limited as to what you can do. In this article, you are going to learn about some useful exercises to keep your body in shape as you age or have limited mobility.
What are the benefits of exercising?
If you are in a wheelchair and feel that exercise is going to be a hassle, it may prevent you from going out of your way to do it. Learning about the benefits of exercise is a great way to motivate yourself::

  • ●  Less muscle/joint pain
  • ●  Prevention of injury
  • ●  Increase muscle mass
  • ●  Increased range of motion
  • ●  Better heart health

Best exercises for people in wheelchairs and the elderly

Now that you know some of the benefits of exercising and the fact that anyone can do it, it is time to cover some specific applications you can use. Through performing these exercises, you will begin to quickly see results and an overall improvement to your health. Most of these exercises can be done indoors, as heat can become an issue for the elderly and those in a wheelchair.

Swimming is one of the best exercises that an elderly or wheelchair-confined person can useto get in shape. First of all, swimming is very easy on your body. Unlike weightlifting and running, swimming does not put any stress or overbearing weight on your joints and ligaments. This is good for those who are older or disabled because it prevents further injury. Another great part about swimming is that it can be used to strengthen muscles across the entire body. In the water, you can strengthen your upper and lower body using specific workout variations. Using a kickboard, you can isolate the exercise to your legs and lower body. If you are unable to use your legs and are in a wheelchair because of it, you can still exercise in the water. Many public pools have a special chair designed for assisting persons with disability into the water. Even if you can't use your legs, you can still exercise your upper body underwater by swimming laps or simply moving your arms around in various motions. All in all, it is safe to say that swimming should be included in your exercise routine.

Dumbell Work The elderly and particularly confined to a wheelchair can greatly benefit from using dumbbells. There are many different ways you can strengthen your muscles and exercise using only dumbbells. Assuming you are in a wheelchair, here are some various exercises you can do with dumbbells:

Sitting down in your chair, you can begin by picking up a dumbbell in each hand. From here, you can curl the dumbbell using your bicep muscles. Your biceps are the muscles between your elbow and shoulder on the top when your palm is facing the ceiling. In the starting position, your arms should be at your sides hanging down toward the ground. To curl, bring your hand up toward your shoulder without moving anything above your elbow. Return to the starting position and repeat. This exercise will help to tone your arms.

Tricep extensions
Now that you have toned your biceps, it is time to tone your triceps. Your triceps make up a larger portion of your arms than your biceps do, so it is even more important to exercise them. For those who are unaware, your triceps are the muscles on the back of your arm, opposite of your biceps. This is the muscle that people use when lifting themselves out of a wheelchair, which is another reason you should strengthen them. Holding a dumbbell, position your arm straight up in the air. Next, allow the weight to bend your arm back, but be sure not to move anything above your elbows. When the weight is at the bottom, force it back up to the starting position using your tricep muscles. Repeat this process until you feel a slight burn in the back of your arms.

Shoulder press
A shoulder press is another great way to exercise in your wheelchair using dumbbells. To perform this variation, take the dumbbells in your hands and push your hands straight up into the air using the muscles in your shoulders. Next, come down until your triceps are parallel with the ground and then push the weights back up. In doing shoulder exercises, you are going to tone your shoulders. Building muscle in the
shoulders is especially important for the elderly as shoulder pain is commonly associated with old age.

Calf raises
If you are able to physically move your legs, calf raises are a simple and effective way to strengthen your calf muscles. Your calves are the back part of your legs between your feet and knees. These muscles are very important when walking, and strengthening them could improve your ability to do so. To strengthen your calves using dumbbells, there are two different variations you can use. For beginners, start by sitting in your wheelchair or in a regular chair. With your feet firmly planted on the ground, rest the dumbbells on your thighs. Next, do a toe raise like you would if you were trying to make yourself taller. You will have to repeat this quite a few times before you feel a burn, but continue to do so until you feel you have effectively worked your calf muscles.
For those who feel they are capable of doing so, there is another way to perform calf raises. In this variation, you will stand up and hold a dumbbell in each hand. With your hands resting to the side, raise up on your toes just like before. Squeezing the calf muscles when you are at the top of the exercise will further strengthen these muscles.
Other Workouts
Even if you are in a wheelchair, that does not limit you to swimming and dumbbell exercises. There are many other ways you can tone various parts of your body.

Your abdominal muscles are located in the area of your belly and are responsible for things like balance and agility. Strengthening these muscles also reduces harmful belly fat. If you want to strengthen your abdominal muscles while sitting in your wheelchair, you can do so fairly easily. One way is by using a side-to-side bend. Sitting up straight, begin by leaning the upper portion of your body to one side, and then bring it back to the center. After that, lean to the other side and return to the starting position again. While you are performing this exercise, your stomach muscles should be clenched and tight. Exaggerate the use of the muscles in your side while you are performing this variation so that you get the best results.
Another way to strengthen your abdominal muscles when you are sitting in your wheelchair is to use upward leg movements. Begin by holding onto the armrests on your wheelchair and sit up straight. For beginners, bend your knees and attempt to bring them to your chest using the abdominal muscles. Put your legs back down and
repeat. After you get a little bit better at this, you can try to put your legs straight out and raise them up in the air. This is a bit more challenging, so be sure to take it easy.

Cardiovascular exercise targets the heart. Essentially, you are getting cardiovascular exercise any time you are causing your heart rate to elevate and stay at that rate for an extended period of time. Most people get cardiovascular exercise from walking, but those in wheelchairs need to get this type of exercise some other way. If you do not exercise your heart, you will feel out of breath quickly and your heart health can decline over time.
There are many different ways to get cardiovascular exercise while you are in a wheelchair. The key is to use your muscles in a way requires a lot of blood and oxygen. This way, your heart will race and your breathing rate will increase, providing oxygen and blood to these muscles. Start by moving your arms around in controlled motions. This can be anything from jogging in place to doing circles with your arms. Continue to move like this until you notice your rate of breathing has increased. Once this occurs, you are getting cardiovascular exercise. Try to keep yourself moving and keep your heart rate up for around 10 minutes. This way, you are getting ample amounts of cardio.

Wheelchair Yoga
Yoga is another great way to exercise your body and should definitely be included in your exercise regimen. Yoga from your wheelchair can greatly contribute to positive benefits in your life:
  • ●  Increased well-being (mentally and physically)
  • ●  Increased lung capacity
  • ●  Increased muscle strength
  • ●  Mental clarity
  • ●  Better sleep
If one or more of these benefits sound appealing to you, consider trying yoga. Guided yoga is the best way to have a good experience, as there are many options to choose from. A simple online search for wheelchair yoga will give you tons of choices and guided videos. Follow these along with your exercises, and you should see results.