Best Chair Exercises for People with Disabilities
1. Chest Squeeze
This is an easy and effective chest workout at home. Sit up straight, contracting your ab muscles to support your back. Push your palms together with continuous pressure and extend out away from your chest until your arms are nearly straight. Slowly pull your hands back in towards your chest, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and repeat. Ready for a challenge? Hold a rubber ball or a medicine ball for a harder workout.
2. Chest Press
Wrap a resistance band around your wheelchair or a chair you are sitting into a workout just below the level of your shoulder blades. Hold the resistance band so there is no slack when your arms are at a 90-degree angle. Extend the band out and hold for three seconds before retracting your arms again. Remember, keep your core engaged to support the muscles in your lower back to avoid injury.
3. Captain’s Chair Exercises
This one will feel familiar to a lot of you! The Captain’s Chair exercise nearly mimics the movement one would use to adjust yourself in a wheelchair and it is a key move for arm workouts at home. Sit up straight and grab the sides or the front of your seat and push your upper body up – and potentially – off the chair. If you have lower core control, lift your legs up toward your chest as you rise for an extra challenge.
4. Side Bend Stretch
Many core exercises require you to get on the floor to complete. But the side bend stretch is an effective ab workout at home that you can do while seated. Start at your baseline: always sitting up tall and supporting your back with a strong core. Keeping your core engaged, extend your right arm toward the ceiling, keeping your arm close to your right ear. Slowly and carefully, bend your upper body into the movement, reaching over the top of your head and making a “c” shape with your spine. Repeat the movement on the other side. Be careful not to overextend yourself in this position. When you feel your abs engage, stop, and come back to the center.
5. Seated Crunches
Many people will search “exercises for a wheelchair-bound person,” without realizing working out from a seated position can be very beneficial toward working out your core muscles. To perform a seated crunch, sit up straight with your arms crossed at your chest. Pull your belly button in like you are trying to make it touch your spine. Press your lower back into your chair as you curl your upper body toward your thighs. Straighten to come back to a neutral position. Want more of a challenge? Loop a resistance band around a door to increase intensity.
Now is a great time to adopt a new exercise program. Whether you are working with a physical trainer who has experience working out with people with disabilities, or if you want to fly solo and try our top 5 wheelchair exercises, there is no wrong way to take measures at improving your physical and mental health.