5 Wheelchair Exercises to Help You Stay Fit

Exercise is key to better health, especially when in a wheelchair. It has the ability to strengthen the muscles and burn fat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get moderate physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Additionally, the CDC suggests that adults engage in strengthening activities that work the major muscle groups at least two days per week. But, how do you stay active while in a wheelchair? Here are some tips:


Stretching can prepare you for the rest of your workout. If you are in a wheelchair you can practice stretching where ever you are. Simply extend the arms and hands above the shoulders and stretch as if you are reaching for the stars. Bring the arms down and repeat 3-5 times.

Weight Train

Weight training can strengthen the arms, upper body, and back. This training involves using free weights. Begin with lighter weights between 2 and 5 lbs. Lift the weights above your head, starting with just a few repetitions. You can also practice curls by holding the weights in your hands facing upwards and bringing the weights back toward your body by bending your elbows. Try 3-5 repetitions, rest, and try 3-5 more.


Resistance bands are popular for exercising the arms and shoulders. Resistance bands allow you to work your muscles as you pull and stretch the bands.

Stay Limber

You can keep your hands limber by making a fist, holding for about 30 seconds and then extending the fingers. Repeat 3-5 times.


Move more in your wheelchair. Like walking, your wheelchair is the way you go from place to place; roll your chair as a form of exercise. Find a place where you can roll about 30 feet and roll your chair between other exercises.

Please consult with your health care provider before implementing these tips.

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