Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death. — Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University
It was Dr. James Levine who coined the “sitting is the new smoking” mantra but now doctors all over the world believe that sitting for long hours is as intoxicating for health as smoking. It is said that sitting 90 minutes at a stretch equals the bad effects of smoking two cigarettes. Sedentary lifestyle is linked to many bad effects on our body and health. Studies have shown that sedentary lifestyle leads to high blood-pressure, elevated cholesterol along with other cardiovascular diseases. It is also linked with type2 diabetes, breast, colon and endometrial cancers.
People are being advised to work on standing desk or take frequent breaks to get up and move their body. But what about the people who are not sitting on their will? Yes I’m talking about the wheelchair-users who have no choice to stand up… what about them? Do they have any choices?
True, most of us cannot get out of our wheelchair and move. In fact wheelchair is the one that brings mobility to our lives. So, sedentary lifestyle is compulsion rather than a choice for wheelchair users. But make sure you do not confuse sedentary lifestyle with an inactive lifestyle. Despite being permanently on wheelchair we can have an active lifestyle that keeps us healthy. You may have understood by now that physical activeness is much more important for wheelchair users in comparison to those who are able to walk on their legs.
Image credit: Fastcodesign
By now it may have been clear to you that persons on wheelchair are living in constant health threats posed due to prolonged sitting sessions. Apart from the health threats listed above, you maybe knowing by your experience, that putting on extra weights is the most common concern for wheelchair users. Obesity comes with a lot more health conditions. And if you are on wheelchair for much longer time; you may also have noticed muscular degeneration. It is not only advisable but mandatory for wheelchair users to indulge in regular physical workouts in order to live a healthy life.
‘Wheelchair users’ is a very broad category that includes people with varying degrees of physical power, abilities and risks. So it is impossible to create a fitness regime that suits all. But there are some common points that every wheelchair user needs to keep in mind while getting involved in any physical workouts.
What you should keep in mind while choosing to workout
- No one, not even your physical therapist, knows and understands your body better than yourself. So, listen to your body while doing a physical exercise. If it indicates it is fatigued then it really is! Don’t strain it more than that.
- Before picking up any strenuous workout, meet your doctor or physical therapist to understand about the risks associated to your body. Maybe you’ll get permission to do whatever you can or maybe you’ll get warning about the risk factors of certain body movements. Don’t ignore their advice on the ground of knowing your body well. Your body can tell if it’s tired or not, it can tell you about your ability to do certain things but doctors know the long term effects of various activities on your type of body.
- Don’t look at others… be your own competitor. If a trainer or any resource (offline or online) that you are relying upon tells you to stretch your arms to 90° angle from your body then they are just referring to the ideal position. The ideal position should only serve as an indicative mark for you. If you are able to attain only 30°or 45° mark, that’s great… just try to maintain it. Maybe you’ll be able to increase that after some times of regular practice.
- You cannot achieve the ideal target of 150 minutes a week of aerobic exercises coupled with resistance training and strength training for two or more days a week. Work slowly but steadily to reach your goals.
- Don’t be over-enthusiastic to do all exercises in one day. Start slow but keep up with the pace. You can not compensate those years and months of inactive life by being overly active.
- The first thing to keep in your mind while doing any workout is your safety. If you don’t have a good balance in your body; do your aerobic exercises seated only on your wheelchair with fastened seat-belt.
- If you choose to use free weights for muscle strength training, start with the minimum weight. If the trainer in video is using 5 kg it doesn’t mean you too need to lift 5 kg dumbbells. If 1 kg of weight feels heavy you can even start with 250ml cold-drinks bottle filled with water. Once you get into practice you’ll improve on your weight training automatically.
- Don’t focus your workout on a limited goal like reducing belly fat or trimming waistline. Your goal should be to keep your body fit overall. When you have less or no muscle power in your lower body your aim should be to increase muscle power of your torso.
- When you get to know about any fitness training or exercise that you cannot do, then don’t give a damn to it. Train yourself mentally to focus on the things you can do.
Are you ready to start your regular workout session? Stay tuned to WeCapable as we are going to share different kinds of workouts with their advantages. You just need to read and choose the one that attract you and plan your personal fitness regime. We won’t let our sedentary lifestyle to force us into an inactive and dull life.
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