Fitness for Every Ability

No matter what your ability or level of fitness is, it’s no secret that getting your body moving now will ensure you have a better, more mobile lifestyle in the future.

Whether you’re running, walking, or walking on wheels, the reality is that there are things that we can all do to improve our movement, and it looks different for everybody.

Some really great tips would be to think about the kinds of things that you’d like to be able to do in ten, 20 or even 50 years, and then look at what you can do today to achieve that.

Start visualizing fitness as more than just running fast or lifting heavy things; it’s about getting your heartrate up and building endurance which is really important. Focus on being able to sustain a higher level of movement intensity over a longer period.

Can people in wheelchairs still benefit from going to the gym?

The reality is that, even if you’re in a wheelchair, you can still go to the gym. It’s just about finding the right equipment, or finding ways to retrofit gym equipment in a way that suits everyone and every ability.

I have a client at the moment who is quadriplegic; they can’t use their triceps, which means they can’t push themself up. To combat that, we used a product called Active Hands, which we have at my mobility store, that straps onto the client’s hands with a Velcro strap.

It allows us to attach equipment to the client’s hand, the gear stays attached, and they can then use it to work their functioning muscles.

There is a lot of specialist equipment that you can use, and even though some of it can be expensive, you can definitely consider renting or hiring rather than buying.

What else can I do to improve movement?

If you are a wheelchair user, you’re sitting down pretty much all day. You may not really think about moving sideways, and working those muscles, so it’s about finding supported ways to increase your flexibility.

That applies even if you’re not a wheelchair user. If you do have some mobility that is potentially compromised for a period of time (through illness or injury) it’s essential that you  incorporate stretching, strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness into your daily routine.

There are plenty of things you can do in your day to keep that fitness and flexibility in focus, from using assistance bands to doing seated workouts, some forms of Tai Chi Pilates, seated dancing – the list goes on.

Something people in wheelchairs need to be conscious of is their circulation, which can definitely be an issue because they’re seated for long periods of time.

If you are a wheelchair user, there are things like pressure cushions that can help to reduce the implications of seating and pressure sores, but ultimately, it’s just keeping active as much as possible and really, your only limitation is your imagination! 

Is playing sport beneficial if I’m in a wheelchair?

Absolutely! There’s all the movement and exercise part of it which is important, but the social aspect of sport I think is actually even more beneficial. It can also help to realise that there are other people out there who do sometimes have the same challenges and successes as you, and being able to share other ways of doing things.

A lot of my clients who are differently abled, across the multiple businesses that I run – health, fitness and WOW Mobility – say they’ve found immense benefit in taking up a social sporting activity, and that it has opened their eyes up to how amazing and fun movement can be!