A new year has begun and the usual resolutions have been made.
Many people take out new gym memberships (which will probably not be used) but for wheelchair users, getting active brings important health benefits and can help with managing daily life, too. Motivation can be difficult in the cold weather but muscle-strengthening exercises can be done at home using resistance bands.
Manoeuvring a wheelchair can put particular pressure on the chest and shoulder muscles – causing them to become tight and prone to injury.
Meanwhile, the back muscles can become weaker because they are never worked. Because of this, it’s a good idea to focus on exercises that work the smaller muscles, such as the shoulder muscles. This can help prevent injury.
Using a wheelchair can make it more difficult to do cardiovascular but any physical activity or weight use that raises your heart rate is good.
You should be slightly out of breath: enough that you can still hold a conversation, but not sing the words of a song. It just needs to be consistent or repetitive.
Kris Saunders-Stowe, a wheelchair user due to a degenerative condition, founded Wheely Good Fitness, a sport and workout adapted to the needs and aspirations of disabled people.
His top tips are:
Keep your goals achievable – if you aim too high at the beginning you will never feel as though you are getting anywhere and give up.
Exercise should be enjoyable and not a chore – keep it interesting, if you find it boring change what you are doing.
Flexibility and stretching is just as important as exercise. Walking with crutches, using a wheelchair and needing to move differently can cause our posture to change and the range of movement we have can deteriorate. Regular stretching can improve our flexibility and range of movement.
Don’t over do it – pushing yourself too hard won’t make things happen quicker and may have a negative impact on your health. Your body needs time to adjust and recover, enabling you to become fitter and stronger long-term, so listen to it.
Keep progressing – when you find something is starting to get easier, step it up. Walk or push a little further, increase the weights you are lifting a little or add in some new exercises. If you’re unused to exercise or you haven’t exercised for some time, aim to start with 10-minute sessions and gradually build up towards 20 minutes. If you do not like traditional exercise, there are plenty of other activities to try, such as swimming, wheelchair sprinting, dancing or wheelchair sports.
Theatres and restaurants accessible in a wheelchair –
- Bucci: 195 Balham High Road: Bucci is a traditional, Italian family restaurant serving fresh, delicious, food. There is one large step to enter but everything is on one level once you’re in. There is a disabled toilet and the staff are pleased to be of help.
- Dr. Inks: 52 Stamford Street: A former Slug and Lettuce, the pub has a disabled entrance, which is reached by a ramp at the side. It is quite steep and you may need help to get up. Once inside, it is completely flat, with a large disabled toilet.
- The Mitford’s (Jan 12-14): Greenwich Theatre, Crooms Hill: The six Mitford sisters lived in the 20th century and much of their varied lives are synchronous with major events that defined that time.
- Ladies’ Day (January 23-27, 2018): Putney Arts Theatre, Ravenna Road, Putney: Hats, heals and fascinators at the ready as friends head to Ascot. As the champagne flows, will their luck on the horses hold out?
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.