Fitness Guide for Wheelchair Users

Beneficial Design and RERC Rectech Wheelchair User Fitness Equipment Guide

Frequent exercise is important for people of all abilities. In our busy culture, fitness centers often provide the only opportunity to improve overall health, prevent disease, improve moods, and boost energy levels. Anyone entering into a busy fitness center for the first time may be overwhelmed as though they were stepping into a foreign land. Where to start, what to do, and how to use all of the fitness equipment may quickly intimidate any beginner. Additionally, there are many safety precautions that need to be taken into consideration while exercising. For people with disabilities, these issues are magnified and create barriers to physical fitness.

In order to help eliminate some of these barriers, Beneficial Designs, Inc. and The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) are developing a guidebook to lead wheelchair users of all abilities through a safe and productive, step-by-step, fitness routine. The Wheelchair User Guide for Using Fitness Equipment addresses many of the obstacles that a person who uses a wheelchair may encounter and guides the user around those barriers by outlining safe ways to exercise while using a wheelchair.

Specific topics will include positioning and securing the wheelchair, removing seating on fitness equipment, transferring in and out of the wheelchair, increasing the stability of the wheelchair, adaptive equipment, and much more. Pictures and illustrations will help to clarify and familiarize the reader with the various topics and necessary precautions. The guidebook will also safely lead the user through a full exercise routine, beginning with warm-up exercise, stretches, various anaerobic and aerobic exercises using mainstream fitness equipment, and cool down exercises. Throughout the routine, potential dangers, safety precautions, and helpful tips will be included to adequately prepare the wheelchair user for a safe and beneficial workout.

The new guidebook, available spring 2013, will help to educate people who use wheelchairs as well as fitness trainers, thereby opening the door to universal access of fitness equipment and exercise.

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Figure 1. Incorrect caster position (left) versus correct caster position (right) affects stability

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Figure 2. A step rise used as a wheel block and/or spotter can be used to increase stability

Stay tuned to NCHPAD for the release of The Wheelchair User Guide for Using Fitness Equipment.