If you are wheelchair-bound, you require daily exercise to help maintain flexibility in the upper body; strengthen your core, shoulders and arms; prevent excessive weight gain; and improve your digestion. Additionally, it will improve your circulation, lung capacity, oxygen delivery to your tissues and organs and posture and prevent clotting problems that can cause a deep vein thrombosis. Your exercise program should target your shoulders, neck and torso, and consult with your physician before beginning.
Warm up for five to 10 minutes by stretching your upper body. Place a dumbbell in each arm, and ensure that you are sitting straight in your wheelchair. Perform a curl-up by flexing your arms towards your chest. You should feel your biceps contract while performing this exercise. Exhale as you lift the weights, and inhale as your lower the weights. Perform one set of 10 repetitions at least once a day.
Begin by sitting tall in your wheelchair and placing both feet on the floor. Lift your left arm, and bend it back so that your left hand is close to your right shoulder blade. Place your right hand on your left elbow, and begin to gently pull your elbow behind your head. Continue this stretch until you feel a stretch in your shoulder or your triceps. Hold this stretch for 10 seconds. You can also perform a shoulder stretch by extending on arm behind your shoulders and gently leaning from your hips to stretch along the side of your upper body. Perform one set of 10 repetitions on each side.
Maintaining flexibility in your torso is essential for those bound to a wheelchair. This will help maintain your lung capacity, prevent stiffness in your vertebrae and stretch the muscles supporting your core and internal organs. Begin by sitting tall in your wheelchair and placing both feet on the floor. Bend your neck and torso forward as far as you can, touching your head to your knees if possible. Hold this stretch for one to two minutes, and return to the starting position. Repeat this stretch as many times as desired.
Leg Extension and Flexion
Since your legs are stationary most of the time, it is important to perform stretches that target this area to improve circulation to the lower extremities. Begin by sitting tall in your wheelchair. Pull one knee towards your chest until a stretch is felt. Hold this position for 10 seconds, and repeat on your other leg. You can also stretch your legs by extending your leg forward and contracting the muscles in the front of your thighs. Repeat this exercise four times on each leg.