Wheelchair Fat-Burning Workouts for Spinal Cord Injury Recovery
Almost everybody seems to be interested in losing weight these days. As a wheelchair user, losing weight is especially hard. Many of the workouts we see on a daily basis, whether they're online or at your local fitness club, simply aren't wheelchair accessible. And, if you don't live near an adapted gym, your options as a wheelchair user are likely limited.
Because of this, we decided to put together a list of three easy fat-burning wheelchair workouts you can do — and, with the least amount of equipment required. While virtually any spinal cord injury (SCI) survivor could lose weight on a wheelchair treadmill, most of us don't have the thousands of dollars it costs to own one.
This is why social media is so important. Wheelchair users from around the globe are sharing their fat-burning wheelchair exercise tips, and we've compiled three we think you will love (don’t forget to check out our Honorable Mention at the bottom of the page).
CrossFit is one of the biggest workouts to hit the scene in the last couple of decades. While the Crossfit company was founded in 2000 (and its founder was teaching its practices prior to that), it has exploded in the last 10 years, and there are more than 13,000 CrossFit gyms in more than 120 countries worldwide. This style of workout uses a variety of equipment, including dumbbells, pull-up bars, jump ropes, kettlebells, medicine balls, resistance bands, and rowing machines — and this is all equipment that wheelchair-users can use!
What makes CrossFit different is that the discipline easily allows someone to create individual complete daily workouts, which you can use to compete against others (another popular aspect of the sport). Many wheelchair users love the competition side, especially if they've been bored with other adaptive sports.
One of the easiest (and cheapest) CrossFit exercises is using a weighted ball, which you use with your back against the wall and then throw up into the air. You then challenge yourself to do as many repetitions as you can in a certain amount of time. You can get great cardio from nearly any kind of CrossFit exercise, which we all know burns those calories and fat. Simply search "wheelchair CrossFit" on Youtube for hundreds of workout videos.
Here are a couple of videos for wheelchair exercises:
Wheelchair HIIT Workouts
Also known as "high-intensity interval training," HIIT workouts are a seriously effective way to get cardio from a wheelchair. The concept behind a HIIT workout is that you do “very-high intensity bursts of cardio exercise followed by equal or longer periods of rest.” Sounds intense, but it works. And most HIIT workouts last under 30 minutes, which is especially nice if you are new to fitness.
There are several HIIT workouts for wheelchair users, but one of our favorites is the 20-Minute Fat Burn HIIT Workout for Wheelchair Users from Ben Clark, a quadriplegic and workout fanatic from England. He has a video channel called Adapt To Perform.
In his workout video, he shows a series of five HIIT workouts that you do in four intervals. It gets your heart rate up quickly and this will help you burn fat. If you do this workout three to four times a week, you'll absolutely lose weight. Hand weights are recommended but not necessary.
Wheelchair Boxing aka “Boxercise”
One of the classic forms of cardio is boxing, and this sport/workout can be adapted to a wheelchair user's needs rather easily. Boxing, by its very nature, is an upper body-intensive exercise. This is why you will find many wheelchair boxing videos online as a form of wheelchair aerobics. Boxing also elevates your heart rate exceedingly well, which is especially good for cardiovascular health.
Also, you don’t need boxing gloves, a boxing bag, or even a trainer to get in a good boxing workout. All you need is to punch the air, aka "air boxing," and you can have the same results (even though it might not be as fun). Wheelchair boxing is very popular all over the world. Watch this wheelchair boxing workout, as demonstrated by a trainer and client.
Honorable Mention: Veganism
For anyone reading this article who can't move their arms, you can still have control over your weight, but you must do it through your diet. While this is not a physical workout, it does force you to exercise self-control of what you eat. One of the most effective ways to lose weight without working out is veganism. This low-carb, low-fat diet, by its nature, also is low-calorie and includes a high vegetable intake, which helps you to burn fat and receive essential vitamins and minerals.
Check out this video about losing weight in a wheelchair without exercise.
Be sure to check out another list we’ve put together of six additional wheelchair exercise routines you can do after a spinal cord injury.
No matter how you decide to work out, remember that drinking as much water as you can also will help you burn fat. Good luck and happy fat-burning!
What practices or solutions have helped you lose weight as a wheelchair user?
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