This applies to every person on the planet, not just those of us in wheelchairs. Unless you have a profession that involves true physical labor where you swing an axe or pile up bricks I am gonna go out on a limb and suggest you need a MINIMUM of 4-5 sessions per week involving intense bouts of exercise. This is not really our fault but everything is automated for us, we do almost nothing on a day to day basis to continue basic survival. Add in great tech luxuries such as Netflix and we are a bunch of lazy asses.
Why We Need Exercise
We need exercise because of a completely sedentary lifestyle of sitting at a desk staring at a computer for 40+ hours a week. Add to that an additional 10 hours of sitting in our cars going to and from work. This time is lost, there is not much we can do about it as we have to work to survive. What we can adjust is what we do with the time we have remaining. In a 5 day workweek, Monday - Friday, we have 120 hours to work with. We lose 50 hours of this time for sleep, and sleep prep, as you must get 8 hours MINIMUM. You are now left with 70 hours to work with and we spent 50 of that on work.
What do you do with these 20 hours? Once we are home too many of us spend another 4 hours per weeknight sitting down at our home computer, playing video games or watching TV. Other than getting up at work to get coffee, go to the bathroom and other minor survival chores we have just spent up the entire workweek and not done shit. If what I just laid out looks like your typical week, than you need cardio, weight training and more of both instantly!
Before Netflix and DVR we actually had to wait for a show we really like and when it was done, it was done. Then we either went and actually did something that probably involved being outside. Now we can just watch endless hours of GREAT content to our hearts content. This a great luxury but makes it incredibly easy to be lazy!
All of the above is also true for us wheelchair bound folks, but the need to exercise is magnified due to sitting all day. At least the "walking" are required to get up and walk to the coffee room, get up and move around just by the requirement of having to get from here to there. That walking is at least some movement and enables the body to stretch out in a more natural state. When applied to a wheelchair person this is not the case, as I never get an opportunity during the work day to stretch out in any fashion. And as for basic wheeling around the evolution of the wheelchair has turned it into an extremely lightweight high-performance machine. Any wheeling on a flat concrete surface requires very little effort.
I will write up tons of articles on different exercises wheelchair users can do from a strength or energy system perspective but for those looking for a start there are tons of options. Simply wheeling around is not gonna be enough for us due to the problem I presented above with the advancement in efficiency of wheelchairs. Unless you are like me and need to get your front wheels fixed as there is a lot of friction!
For wheeling purposes, find a hill near your work or home. Or drive to one. Wheeling up a hill is the absolute best form of "cardio" for a wheelchair user. It fits into our version of a loaded carry as it will work both cardio-vascular and muscular areas. If the hill is too challenging to finish in one straight push, pause long the hill. Hill pushes provide a great burn to the upper body and will force you to raise your heart rate. Two birds, one stone.
So start small, find a hill and turn off Netflix for a hour!