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Is it Possible to Lose Weight Sitting in a Wheelchair?

an obese man in a power wheelchair.
Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | November 14, 2022 (Last update: November 14, 2022)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website:

There’s no denying the fact that adults in a wheelchair are prone to gain unhealthy weight and also find it difficult to lose weight. It is mainly due to the fact that they lose fewer calories as compared to others. Being overweight puts them at the additional risk of myriads of serious health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, etc.

Keeping the health risks of being obese or overweight everybody, including wheelchair users, must aim to maintain a healthy weight. Though it is undoubtedly difficult for wheelchair users to lose weight, it is not an impossible task. You just need to tweak the weight loss strategy to suit your special needs.

Why it is Difficult to Lose Weight in a Wheelchair?

Before we start our discussion on losing weight while in a wheelchair it is important to understand why the weight loss journey for a wheelchair user is different from those who walk. We can list down dozens of differences between the lifestyle of a person who walks and a person who wheels around. But, all those differences boil down to one big fact – wheelchair users consume more than the required calories and burn fewer calories.

No, we are not suggesting that wheelchair users are always over-eaters. People in a wheelchair may consume appropriate calories recommended for their gender and age but it becomes more than required for them as they do not burn as many calories as their non-wheelchair user counterparts.

The average caloric intake recommended for men is 2,500 calories a day while for women it is 2,000 calories a day. But, a wheelchair user requires lesser than these guideline amounts. This difference in caloric intake need is primarily because wheelchair users tend not to use the large leg muscles. Lesser muscle use means lesser use of calories. Lesser caloric burn means accumulation of fats and thus gain of extra weight.

Moreover, the majority of wheelchair users tend to live a lesser active life as compared to other people of their age. This sedentary life contributes to adding extra pounds to wheelchair users.

Tips on Losing Weight While on Wheelchair

After the above-mentioned discussion, we are good to go on the tips to lose weight while in a wheelchair.

Use Your Diet to Lose Weight Healthily

With our above discussions, you might have already guessed that you need to decrease your caloric intake to lose weight. But, just reducing your food intake will not be a good idea. When you eat less it becomes more important to see what you eat from the point of view of nutrition. You need to eat less but healthily. Compromising on nutrition for losing weight is never a good idea. You need to get enough nutrition, especially vitamins and minerals, from your diet.

The following tips may help you lose weight without starving your body for nutrition.

  • Include at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
  • Choose whole grain options with less added sugar or fat wherever possible
  • Necessarily include dairy products or dairy alternatives in the daily diet but remember to choose low-fat and low-sugar options.
  • Do not forget to include protein-rich diets like beans, pulses, meat, fish, and eggs in your daily diet.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Keep intake of foods high in fat, salt, and sugar to a minimum. Have these in smaller amounts and less often.
  • Include everything in your diet but remember to keep your portion size small.

Get as Much Active as You Can

Do not bother about your reduced ability to indulge in physical activities as others. Whatever your level of physical capability, you can find an activity or a sport to keep you physically active.

If it’s possible try to incorporate 150 minutes of aerobic activities every week in your routine. It is not necessary to do similar aerobic activities as others. You can tweak the activities to match your physical capabilities. Remember the only aim of aerobic activity is to increase your heart rate and the use of oxygen in your body. Any activity that increases the pumping rate of your heart can be included in a routine as an aerobic activity. Aerobic activities are considered the best class of exercise and activities when it comes to losing weight.

You should also try to include some strength training exercises in your routine for at least two days a week. Strength training exercises are very important for wheelchair users as a lot of wheelchair users experience the weakening of muscles. Strength training exercise not only helps you maintain a healthy weight but also keeps your muscles strong and functioning.

You can also visit your local gym and check for equipment and options available for wheelchair users. A trainer can help design personalized activity routines suited to your particular need.

In the End

Yes, it is possible for a person in a wheelchair to lose weight in a healthy manner; you just need to understand the uniqueness of your condition and plan things accordingly. The above-given tips will help you plan your weight loss journey.

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