How to exercise from your wheelchair

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By JOAN SALMON

The need to lose weight is paramount to people of various walks of life. However, often people confined to a wheelchair are not considered. But before embarking on exercises, Robert Katsigazi, a consultant physiotherapist with Fresco Medical services, says the most important thing for these people is to avoid taking in too many calories that they cannot burn.

Veron Bikamata, a fitness expert, nutritional advisor and strength and sports performance coach, says,
“There is no form of exercise that can out-train a bad diet. Improve your nutrition by consuming more proteins and fewer carbohydrates.” Priscillah Ondogah, a physiotherapist with Ropheka Physiotherapy, also says wheelchair-bound people need to lose any excess weight because its consequences are detrimental to their health and can lead to;

Diseases
Quraish Golooba, a physiotherapist with Univic Medical Centre in Bukoto, says wheelchair-bound people are likely to get obese thus making them prone to heart-related diseases such as stroke, communicable diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, as well as cancers such as colon cancer.”

Total dependence
According to Katsigazi, with existent problems such as back pain, weak bones, increase in weight will make a wheelchair-bound person even more dependent on others for help. It will also become much more difficult for caregivers to help you as you get heavier.

Strength training exercises
Golooba says strength exercises strengthen the arm muscles and help you burn more calories than you normally would. This in turn will help you lose weight or manage it. They also help you gain balance as you can easily resist any opposing force with ease.
“Elastic bands help to generate resistance as well as activate muscles. One could tie these bands on a pole and pull or hold with both arms and pull in and out,” he adds.

Dumbbells (weights)
These help to develop the muscles as well. “If one cannot access dumbbells, they could improvise” Golooba advises. For example, one can put sand in a sack to achieve the appropriate weight they can afford to carry.

Swimming
Some swimming pools have a provision for disabled people. According to Golooba, swimming is good because there is a reduced risk of damaging tissues because you are in water.

Flexibility exercises
Golooba says most of these involve stretching, which improves flexibility. “That is why stretching is used at the start and end of any exercise regimen,” he says.

Before starting to exercise, Bikamata says one must consult a fitness professional trained to handle this particular special group.

He adds that the trainer must also ensure that everything is done in moderation to avoid causing further injury.

It is important to cool down
Quraish Golooba, a physiotherapist with Univic Medical Centre in Bukoto, says you should not forget to cool down after finishing your wheelchair exercises. You will need to stretch your arms once again, raising them over your head and interlocking your fingers.
“Stretch your shoulders back so your shoulder blades come closer together and roll your wrists. Finally, finish your workout with some deep breathing and meditation,” he says.

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