Wheelchair Users! Maintain Good Health

Madhu Bagri, a wheelchair tennis player, shares her take on how wheelchair users can maintain good health.

Obesity is increasing at alarming rate in the entire world. Everyone is facing the pinch of it, be it able or differently-abled. There are several reasons behind increasing number of obese people; including lifestyles, food choices, less physical workouts and stress.

Obesity is more prominent among the persons with disabilities as they have lesser choices when it comes to physical workout. Due to their restricted mobility they are more prone to become obese or overweight. In order to remain in good health condition, you have to ensure that you don’t fall in this category of being obese.

Weight gain not only adds those extra pounds but also brings in many other co-morbid conditions. For example, diabetes, hypertension, blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, breathing problems and many more.

The question is how can people with no or low mobility really control weight gain and work towards achieving an ideal health?

In my view, one of the most important and yet often ignored thing to do is to get your body checked up regularly. If you’re below 40 years you should get yourself checked up once a year. After becoming 40+ it is recommended to get body profile done twice a year.

Tests that comes under Body Profile: CBC, Lipid, Kidney, Thyroid, Sugar, Calcium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D3. One may ask why the tests for calcium or vitamin B12 or D3 are required. It is important for persons with disabilities because our bones are weaker than the able-bodied people and B12 deficiency can make us feel lethargic and tired all the time. Any reports which indicates deficiencies or is positive should be consulted by a physician on priority.

Then comes the eating pattern and food choices.

Generally an adult is in comma also needs around 1200 calories per day for the basic functioning of the body. So if we are not much active or have a sedentary lifestyle then you should not consider taking more than 1400 calories per day. These calories should be divided in 5 small meals; Breakfast, Mid-day Snack, Lunch, Evening Tea and Dinner. Nowadays you can get a calorie count of any recipe on the internet. You can actually design your own portion of the meals that you plan to consume. Focus more on taking protein and fiber rich diet and some fat and very little carbs. Indian meals generally are carbohydrate-rich so you need to make informed choice the food and its quantity. You should avoid sugar, junk food, processed food, ready-to-eat kind of food.

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Having physical activity is very important for your physical as well as mental health. You may say I can’t move or walk due to disability. But still you may be able to do activities like Zumba, Aerobics, PT exercises, or any such cardio activity. Even propelling wheelchair for long distances just like walk … A number of cardio activities can be done sitting on the bed and also through adaptive methods. Yoga and breathing can add to your vital health but can’t contribute much in weight loss, especially for wheelchair users. Most of the Yoga asaans that triggers weight loss in yoga can’t be performed by wheelchair users. Therefore, the best weight loss plan is combination of good diet and exercise.

To lose one kg weight you need to burn 3500 calories. If your target is to lose weight then it should be a long term plan and not centered around things like crash dieting. Target 3-4 kgs of weight reduction per month. For this you need to create 500 calories deficit every day. That can be done through diet control or workout. Sleep plays a vital role in weight management. You should take sound sleep of minimum 7 to 8 hours a day. Have fixed time for sleeping. Don’t change it very often. Don’t starve yourself. Consume raw vegetables, fruits with low sugar, roasted nuts etc. when you get the hunger bout.

If one can follow all this, weight management shall not be that difficult. Having a good health should be a self-driven desire and not a compulsion from anyone or situation.

Maintaining healthy body is an ever-going process. It needs your attention and dedication throughout. Once you start and the results are apparent, trust me it will become your routine. You will start getting addicted to “FITNESS”.

Views expressed in this article are personal. Readers should also consult appropriate health professionals like dietician and physiotherapist.

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