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Exercises Suitable for Seniors in Wheelchairs

By Nick Paciello, 9:00 am on

Henderson elderly care experts believe exercise is important for all aging adults, no matter what their level of mobility. Though being in a wheelchair may make physical activity more challenging, there are many exercises a senior can do despite this limitation. If your senior loved one uses a wheelchair, these exercises can help keep him or her healthy and strong.

Endurance Exercises

Your loved one will need upper body strength and endurance to propel a manual wheelchair. You can help him or her get aerobic exercise that can increase endurance by purchasing an inexpensive tabletop bicycle. This one piece of equipment provides dual benefits because your loved one can peddle using his or her arms or feet. He or she can start by exercising in 10-minute increments, then gradually increase to 30 minutes at a time.

Strength Training Exercises

Bicep curls, chest presses, and overhead presses are perfect for building upper body strength and can easily be done from a seated position. To increase lower body strength, suggest your loved one try seated marching or knee extensions. He or she can use small dumbbells, ankle weights, or exercise bands for added resistance. Encourage your loved one to work each muscle group 2 to 3 times a week.

Flexibility Exercises

Muscles and joints can become stiff and tight as we grow older. Your loved one can loosen tight shoulder muscles by stretching one arm overhead as high as possible and then using the other arm to try to extend it even further. He or she can increase hamstring flexibility by straightening the knee and putting his or her foot on a couch or table. Your loved one should then lean forward slightly until he or she feels the muscle at the back of the thigh begin to stretch. Performing 5 to 10 stretches on each side several times a day can help your loved one stay flexible.

Balance Exercises

Core strength and balance can increase posture and prevent your loved one from falling out of the wheelchair. To work the core muscles, have your loved one scoot to the edge of the chair and sit up as straight as possible. He or she should tighten the abdominal muscles and hold the position for 5 to 10 seconds. Have your loved one repeat the exercise 3 to 5 times several times during the day.

If your loved one uses a wheelchair and needs assistance with exercise and other daily activities, turn to Home Care Assistance. For instance, if he or she needs stroke care in Henderson, our caregivers can help make the tasks of bathing, cooking, and cleaning easier for your loved one. We also offer specialized care for seniors with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. For more information on our senior care services, call one of our qualified Care Managers today at (702) 527-7723.