Volume 24, Issue 2 March/April 2014 | Download PDF
by Cindy Asch-Martin
WHEN WE THINK OF EXERCISE, there are some who may think that only fit or able-bodied people are capable of doing it. But exercise is meant to be a part of everyone’s lives, regardless of your physical or emotional condition. Exercise provides many positive aspects to our everyday life, such as releasing endorphins for a happier you, to helping alleviate the pain of arthritis, to strengthening our bodies, to name just a few benefits.
Just because some of us may be restricted in what we can do and how we can do it doesn’t mean exercise is out of the question. For example, there are sports designed specifically for wheelchair users, as well as daily exercises that one can do in a wheelchair.
There are various reasons why some amputees may choose to use a wheelchair – for example, it may be too painful to wear a prosthesis; a prosthesis may be in need of repair; or one may be unable to afford a prosthesis.
If you belong to a gym you have many forms of exercises to choose from. Depending on your abilities, you may be able to transfer yourself from your wheelchair to a piece of equipment; this will also provide extra strengthening in simply maneuvering over to the bench. All upper-body exercises (trapezius, shoulders, chest, back, triceps and biceps) can be done with dumbbells, kettle bells or machines.
If you don’t have access to a gym, then home exercises are available to help you stay strong and healthy.
For those who can transfer to a bed, chair or the floor, the possibilities are greater for more variety than if you must exercise only in your wheelchair, but you too can benefit with a good number of exercises to keep you strong.
The category you fit into will also determine how many different exercises you can do. If you are a bilateral amputee without prostheses, then you should be able to strengthen your upper body. If you are an AK, BK or knee disarticulation amputee, then you have the ability to exercise at least one leg as well as your upper body.
Working your own body weight is one of the more productive ways to exercise. It is actually harder to use your own body than it is to pull or push a piece of equipment.
Let’s try a home workout in a wheelchair as our example for exercises. You can do these even if you’re not in the mood to go to the gym!