Exercise for Seniors: There are an estimated 2.7 million wheelchair users in the U.S. Additionally, a census survey found that roughly 30.6 million Americans cited difficulty walking or climbing stairs, used a cane, crutches, or a walker. Therefore, if you work with older adults, it is inevitable that you’ll encounter someone with limited mobility.
Wheelchair-bound seniors or those with limited mobility still need to stay active and keep their bodies moving to retain the health and abilities they currently have. This requires a person-centered fitness care plan that considers their individual capabilities and is designed to meet their needs and desired goals.
Here are five types of seated exercise for seniors with limited mobility.
Upper Body Workout
Dumbbells, medicine balls, and resistance bands can be incorporated to create a dynamic upper body workout that is done from a chair. Wheelchair users consistently use their triceps and shoulders for movement, which puts extra strain on the joints and muscles. In order to prevent injury and avoid these common imbalances, it is essential to focus on strengthening the back muscles and ensuring to stretch the chest muscles.
Because water eliminates the effects of gravity on the body, the pain and stress on the body’s muscles and joints is greatly reduced. Getting cardio workouts can be difficult for seniors with limited mobility, but aquatic exercise can help with this. Water provides even, gentle resistance for strength building and has a calming effect on the body and mind, too! Most aquatic centers are equipped with accessible pools and equipment to assist with various disabilities, in addition to offering a variety of classes for older adults.
Chair Yoga or Tai Chi
Since people with limited mobility use their upper body muscles more than average, it is very important that they regularly stretch these muscles. Chair yoga or chair tai chi are wonderful options. Watch this 15-minute yoga sequence seniors can do while sitting in a chair!
Rowing Machine Workout
If you’ve ever watched competitive rowing, you’ll know those are strong athletes! Rowing is a serious workout that burns fat and builds muscle all while sitting down. Most fitness centers will have a rowing machine that can be modified to help meet the needs of those who are wheelchair-bound.
Wheelchair bowling is very competitive and increasing in popularity! While some individuals with limited mobility may be able to bowl without special equipment, there is a lot of equipment and adaptive tools designed to make the game easier for everyone. Check out this guide to bowling in a wheelchair.