Benefits of Exercise for Older Adults in Wheelchairs


The many benefits of exercise for older adults are NOT off-limits to those who are wheelchair-bound. The needs of physical exercise are just as much for them as they are to those who are not in a wheelchair (this applies for people of all ages, but let’s stay in subject).  Let’s now explore the benefits and activities that can be done, and let’s together dissolve the notion of limits. Great achievements await us.

Four our elders who use a wheelchair, and specially if they have been starting using them recently on their older years, in many occasions will come like the closing chapter of their life. The lack of physical activity, can do many harms, but added to them underlies depression. In order to beat it and regain a good quality of life, there are several activities that can be added to their daily routine that can eventually give them more energy, independence, a clear mind and a positive outlook in life. The real benefits of exercise for older adults go way beyond physical and can even reach their very souls. Those who are wheelchair bound need them more than anybody, and can very well obtain them, with dedication, love and encouragement.


Seniors who engage in physical activities, such as cardiovascular activities and resistance training improve their heart rate, and enjoy improvements to their mood, and in many cases have positive effects on their mental well-being. Having a go around the block, o any short distance can work up the heart rate. Of course the seniors would need to push themselves, but it is greatly recommended that they partake on this activity with a guardian supervising them.

Strengthening the upper body is very important. Building up strength in the arms and shoulders can help them achieve more independence and the ability to perform some of their daily tasks by themselves. Having them perform front raises with dumbbells, is a good exercise to help them gain strength on the shoulders. A simple exercise to achieve this is using the dumbbells on each hand. Straight both arms firmly and lift the dumbbells parallel to the floor, lower them slowly to rest on the knees and raise them slowly to the same position. The senior should try this at least 12 to 15 times and stopping when feeling fatigue.

Using the same dumbbells (or slightly heavier), performing bicep curls can provide more strength on the arms. This is very important should the senior require making some lifting on their own.

Another (fun) exercise, that helps for increase heart rate and achieve flexibility on the arms is throwing punches in the air. Bending the arms in front of the body in a 90 degrees and punching across, on one arm and then the other continuously until fatigue, helps increase heart rate as well. And, in some cases, vent out frustration.

The tricky part about getting a senior bound to a wheelchair to do some physical activity is getting them motivated. Encouraging them, making the exercises seem like fun and explaining to them the many benefits that they bring, can help persuade them onto trying them. Our limits are the ones we set on ourselves, and achieving a better life quality, even for were hope might be lost, is possible… if we believe.

Related Read:

Positioning and Seating with Wheelchair Cushions
Awesome exercise benefits for seniors
Does Exercise help with Depression and Anxiety?