Physical exercise is essential for seniors, especially those who use a wheelchair because it helps maintain their physical health, manage weight and enhance mobility. Many people think that wheelchair users cannot engage in physical activity because of their limited mobility. However, there are a few chair based exercises that can accommodate various abilities and provide meaningful physical activity for these loved ones. This post will discuss various chair exercises for seniors that promote health and well-being. But first, let’s look at the advantages of physical activity for wheelchair users.
Benefits of Exercise for Wheelchair-Bound Seniors
Regular chair exercises for seniors who use a wheelchair can contribute to cardiovascular health in various ways. These include increasing heart efficiency, improved blood circulation and reduced blood pressure. Physical exercise also helps regulate cholesterol levels, enhancing blood vessel function and promoting weight management.
Increased Muscle Strength
Besides improving cardiovascular health, regular wheelchair exercises, especially strength and resistance exercises, can improve muscle strength significantly. That is achieved through various technical processes, including muscle fibre recruitment, hypertrophy and protein synthesis. These exercises also target joints, enhancing stability and health.
Individuals who use wheelchairs do not get to engage in regular physical activities that promote flexibility, such as walking and jogging. As we know, being flexible is essential for our bodies because it gives us freedom of movement with lower risks of injury. Physical chair exercises for seniors, such as chair stretching and chair yoga, can enhance flexibility by taking joints and muscles through their full range of motion. They also improve muscle elasticity and relaxation, which are essential in enhancing flexibility.
Enhanced Mental Health
In addition to improving flexibility, seated exercises for individuals who use wheelchairs can also enhance mental health. Exercising triggers the release of various neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, which improve mood and lower stress levels.
With all these benefits, it is evident regular exercise can help improve daily functioning and independence for individuals who use wheelchairs, further enhancing their overall well-being.
Pre-Exercise Considerations for Wheelchair-Bound Individuals
Exercises for the elderly individuals who use wheelchairs are relatively low-intensity. However, there are a few pre-exercise considerations to ensure their participation in physical activity is safe and effective. Here are a few examples of pre-exercise considerations for seniors who use wheelchairs:
Consult a Healthcare Provider
It is essential to consult a healthcare provider before any chair based exercises, especially if the senior has existing injuries, underlying health conditions or other medical concerns. A medical professional will assess the individual’s overall health, ensuring their activities do not cause more harm than good.
Assess Individual’s Limitations
If you are sure the individual does not have any serious underlying medical condition, there might not be any need to visit a healthcare professional as a pre-exercise measure. However, you still need to assess their limitations before developing a personalised exercise plan. Understanding their limitations allows you to tailor the exercise routine to align with their specific needs.
Engaging in chair exercises for seniors that exceed their abilities can increase the risk of injuries. Here are a few other safety tips to prevent during these exercises:
- Use the right equipment – proper equipment and adaptive devices, including a properly fitted chair, can enhance your safety and ensure your exercise is successful.
- Adapt the exercise to the individual’s abilities – it is also safer to tailor the exercises to suit the specific abilities, strength and mobility limitations (if any) of the individual.
- Pick an appropriate workout environment – an appropriate exercise environment for an individual who uses a wheelchair should be well-lit, easily accessible and free of obstacles that could get them stuck.
Flexibility and Balance Workouts for Wheelchair Users
Flexibility and balance workouts are good examples of the best exercises for the elderly loved ones who use wheelchairs. These seated exercises help maintain mobility, prevent muscle atrophy and improve balance and coordination. Here are a few wheelchair exercises you should include in the personalised exercise plan:
- Shoulder stretch
- Neck Stretches
- Chest opener
- Wrist and forearm stretches
- Seated leg stretches
- Seated marching
- Seated leg shifts
- Toe taps
- Seated arm reaches
- Seated balance and squeeze
The benefits of physical exercises for individuals who use wheelchairs cannot be overstated. Regular physical activity promotes mental health, muscle strength and cardiovascular health. However, it is essential to tailor these exercises to suit the specific needs of the individual. That involves consulting a healthcare professional before exercise to ensure they do not have any underlying health issues that could worsen with workouts. It is also essential for these individuals to have a caregiver around them when exercising to ensure safety, support and motivation. Contact Veritas Care today for more information with regards to wheelchair friendly exercises for your elderly loved one.