Activities for Wheelchair Bound Individuals
Requiring a wheelchair does not mean you are confined to a sedentary, inactive lifestyle. Accessibility requirements and the growth of organizations dedicated to advancing a zest for life in all individuals regardless of injury or disability have created new standards for health and athleticism for wheelchair users. Wheelchair-bound individuals can engage in a wide variety of activities including exercise, adventure travel and competitive sports.
Traditional yoga encourages positive physical and mental health, according to the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD). Hatha yoga, the most popular yoga form in western cultures, emphasizes physical poses called asanas that stretch, tone and strengthen muscles, along with focused breathing that can help alleviate anxiety, stress and depression. Many hatha yoga asanas are performed seated, and can be engaged in while sitting in a wheelchair or ordinary kitchen chair. Consult an appropriately trained yoga instructor before beginning, in order to avoid any potential injury. Yoga practice should complement, not substitute for, your ongoing medical care or physical therapy, the NCPAD advises.
Aerobic and Strength Training
Aerobic exercise and strength training improve cardiovascular health and mobility for everyone, including people who use wheelchairs. Consistent daily exercise can ease skin problems associated with wheelchair use, increase your ability to get around with ease and, when done with friends, can provide a dose of fun and companionship, advises the University of Iowa Health Care Center for Disabilities and Development. Strength training can include isometric exercises like lifting up your body weight by pressing your hands down on the arms of the chair or free weight or resistance pulley systems at a gym, which also add an aerobic element.
Wheelchair athletes may compete in specialized, separate events, but their athleticism is second to none. Organizations such as Wheelchair and Ambulatory Sports, USA, facilitate top-notch competition in sports like archery, billiards, basketball, swimming and wheelchair races. You can participate in local wheelchair sports meets even if you are not a top competitor. Participating in sports activities conveys positive health and emotional benefits, whether or not you are in a wheelchair.
Traveling to see new sites, meeting new people and learning about the world is an important component of a healthy lifestyle. The number of resorts, hotels and travel attractions around the world thst welcome guests who use wheelchairs is rapidly expanding. The resource center of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association lists dozens of guides, travel agencies and trip planners to help wheelchair-bound individuals plan the adventure of a lifetime.
A freelance writer since 1978 and attorney since 1981, Cindy Hill has won awards for articles on organic agriculture and wild foods, and has published widely in the areas of law, public policy, local foods and gardening. She holds a B.A. in political science from State University of New York and a Master of Environmental Law and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.