Working It Out!

Nothing motivates me to do something quite like being told by other people that I can’t do it. This is especially the case when it comes to exercise. I constantly encounter people who assume that I simply can’t exercise because I use a wheelchair, or that there really is no point for me to exercise because it just wouldn’t be effective. And when I mention that I do exercise from my wheelchair, far too many people are totally incredulous. But exercise is totally possible for wheelchair users. It’s all about making it work for you and your body.

I have to admit, I haven’t always been a big fan of exercising. Despite that, I made a resolution at the beginning of 2020 to exercise every day. Somehow, since January 1st, I’ve found myself feeling truly dedicated to making workouts part of my daily routine. Keeping up this habit means finding ways to make exercise feel fresh and new, something to look forward to. Here are some of my favorite ways to focus on fitness in a seated position. The best part? They’re all free! Of course, be sure to consult with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning any exercise program.

Find Seated Workout Videos on YouTube

My go-to resource for chair exercise is YouTube. It takes a little digging to find videos that will work for you and that you’ll enjoy, but once you find ones that you like, you’ll have a collection of free workout routines that you can access at any time. To help you get started, check out this round-up of some of the best chair exercise videos that I’ve put together on my website. There’s plenty of variety to get you started, and you can pick what feels right for you.

Check Out the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD).

NCHPAD has a wealth of resources about disability and fitness that you’ll want to bookmark, like 14 Weeks to a Healthier You, which is a personalized online fitness and nutrition program.

Find a Workout Buddy

Whether virtually or in-person, a workout buddy is key to staying accountable. Make it fun by taking turns coming up with different exercises for each other to put together a full workout.

Dance It Out

Whether you’re looking to get a good workout and get your heart rate going or you just need some stress relief, dancing it out is always a good idea. Put on your favorite music and make up your dance routine as you go. There are no wrong moves. Go wild! Bonus points for cool wheelchair spins.

You can’t go wrong with any of these ideas, but whatever you choose, listen to your body. If something hurts or feels like a dangerous way to move your body, honor that. Always remember the two most important things about wheelchair fitness: 1) move in ways that are safe for you, and 2) have a great time doing it!

About Emily Ladau: Emily is a blogger and serves as the editor in chief of Rooted in Rights. She co-hosts a podcast and has been recognized as an emerging leader in the disability community. Emily lives on Long Island and enjoys traveling and trying new restaurants. Click here to learn more about Emily.