Studies show that while there are 1.825 million geriatric wheelchair users in the United States alone, another 2 million people become chair users every year. This statistic includes both geriatric and bariatric wheelchairs.
Sadly, as obesity has become an epidemic among Americans and Canadians alike, the number of bariatric care patients has increased.
Almost one in every three Americans qualifies as obese, and over 50% of Canadian adults reported being either obese or overweight in 2014. In 2006, nearly one and a half million Canadians needed assistance with everyday physical activities due to disability. While the precise statistic is tough to pinpoint, many of these individuals surely suffer from limited mobility due to being confined to a bariatric wheelchair.
Despite limited mobility, it is possible to exercise in a wheelchair. In fact, it is even more important to do so because the patient’s lifestyle is mostly sedentary. Here are some ways to exercise with physical limitations due to geriatric or bariatric wheelchairs:
- Opting for a pedal wheelchair is one way to make sure that a patient can keep their muscles engaged without moving from the chair and sacrificing long term sitting comfort. By using the legs whenever possible, the patient will strengthen their legs and core. They may even become closer to unassisted mobility in the process.
- Chest presses, with or without hand weights, is another great way to get moving and increase heart rate and burn calories without moving around. Just remember, it is important to apply the brakes if the patient plans to remain in their chair while performing the exercise.
- Shoulder presses and bicep curls are great seated exercises to keep the upper body in shape, if the patient’s condition allows. Be sure to keep track of how many repetitions and how much weight is too much for the patient.
- Resistance bands are great tools to use from a wheelchair. Tying the bands to a doorknob, furniture, or the chair itself will provide a stable point to pull from, engaging the upper body.
As the population of geri and bariatric wheelchairs in the United States exceeds 3 million, just over 1% of the nation’s population, it is important to keep these individuals mobile, fit, and functional to reduce the stress and discomfort on their bodies.