5 Ways to Improve Your Health As a Wheelchair User

If there was a pill you could take that would guarantee you could stay in good health until you were 100 years old, we would all want it, right? I know I would. But maintaining our health isn't a quick fix; it's something that we have to consciously put effort into every day. I have been a wheelchair user since I was big enough to attempt to walk, and the challenges of exercising and staying healthy while you body is fighting against you aren't easy. Although staying healthy is something that the whole world strives for, being a person who uses a wheelchair can make it even more important. Here are five ways that you can improve your health as a wheelchair user.

1. Increase your endorphins

A man using a power wheelchair taking a stroll outside

Exercise is great for our bodies, as it increases your endorphins and gives you more energy and less stress, making you feel good overall. By putting a little swerve in your roll and adding a little splash of zest to your game, your mentality and outlook on your day will be improved. And the best part is that exercise doesn't have to be push-ups and sit-ups. It can be going for a roll outdoors or even dancing around the house in your chair to your favorite tunes. One great way to get in some exercise would be to attend a dance camp for wheelchair users. The Rollettes, a dance group of female wheelchair riders, are now hosting these and it sounds like such a fun way to get that heart pumping. Seated yoga is another way to have some fun while getting healthy & you can find classes for this online.

2. Improve your mental health

One of my favorite ways to keep my sanity and to soothe my soul is some good old fashioned pet therapy. Having two dogs of my own gives me plenty of furry love all day long. But if you don't own a pet, you could spend some time at a cat café. Cat cafés are popping up everywhere and are such a fun way to get a delicious coffee or tea, and pet all the cats while they purr away your stress. Or if you prefer a more contained animal environment, visit a pet adoption shelter. All the animals there could certainly use your love & attention and would be willing to give you more affection than you can give them.

if animals just aren't your thing, mental health can also be improved by calling an old friend and sharing some laughs or even watching a funny movie and laughing while being comfy in your own home. And to really improve your mental health, consider going to therapy, either in-person or online. Luckily, there are so many options available nowadays. Online therapy has been valuable for me.

3. Eating a healthy diet

Sometimes, we just can't find the time to cook a healthy meal and we find ourselves resorting to the junk cabinet and snacking on chips and candy bars instead. While this is delicious, the sugary candy and carbohydrates in chips can give us a quick burst of energy, but at the same time leave us dragging within the hour. Why not choose a food delivery service instead? Let someone else do all the preparations to provide you a well-balanced diet and have meals delivered to your door. You can choose how often you want the meals delivered (weekly or monthly) and modify your items with personalized meal plans. Even if you love to cook, this would be a perfect way to open up more time for going on a stroll or making it to that wheelchair dance class! Just don't forget to take your water along with you when you roll out the door. Drinking lots of water is important in maintaining a healthy and better you.

4. Prevent those pressure sores

For wheelchair users, pressure sores are something that we have to worry about. They are something that no one wants, ever! For me, I have found that bathing daily and keeping my skin as clean as possible has helped to steer clear of these. Another way that is helpful in preventing pressure ulcers is using a wheelchair that has a recline feature and leg extensions. This helps to keep pressure from building up in one place on your bottom and on the back of your legs & feet. Just by moving the lower half of your body periodically throughout the day will allow air to flow to different body parts more easily and will keep you and your delicate skin much healthier!

5. Be free from your chair with pool therapy

There's no doubt that using a wheelchair all day, every day can be taxing on your joints, circulation, and muscles. But I have found that the best feeling in the world is getting out of my chair and into a swimming pool. When in water, I am free and weightless. I am no longer "attached" to my wheelchair and can maneuver my arms and legs much more easily. If the pool is heated, I love it even more. It just does miracles for stretching out my legs and keeping everything moving throughout my body. Although I have to use pool noodles to help me to stay upright and afloat, the water still gives me the sensation of floating and I can actually move my arms and legs without my lack of muscle strength holding me back.

As wheelchair users, we already have factors working against us that may affect our health. That is why it is so important to do all that we can to make our bodies and minds the healthiest that they can possibly be. Let's roll into the new year with a great attitude and smiles on our faces!

About the Author

Cory Lee

After being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at the age of two, Cory Lee's thirst for adventure never ceased. He went on many trips around the U.S. when he was younger, and then started taking things internationally when he turned 15. Since then, Cory has traveled to 21 countries across six continents, all while managing to start up his travel blog Curb Free with Cory Lee, where he shares his accessible, and sometimes not-so-accessible travel adventures with others. Cory is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). He has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, in a nationwide segment for CBS News, Lonely Planet, and many others. His blog won the 2017 Best Travel Blog Gold Lowell Thomas Award. He hopes to inspire other wheelchair users to roll out of their comfort zone and see all of the beauty that the world has to offer.

Cory Lee's ride is a Quickie Q700 M.

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Date: 1/30/2024 12:00:00 AM

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