3 Exercises for People in Wheelchairs

wheelchair exercises special needs

Being in a wheelchair doesn’t keep you from getting around, and it definitely won’t stop you from being your fittest self! There are a number of exercises you can do while you’re in your wheelchair that can build strength, endurance, and flexibility. Lose weight, get toned or just get healthier with these three exercises for people in wheelchairs:

1. Medicine Ball Criss-Cross

Special Strong Gym Franchise Learn More

Take a medicine ball in your hands. You want the weight to be challenging but not straining. If you’re not strong enough to get through five reps with a 20-pound ball, try a 10-pound ball instead. It’s OK! The more you exercise, the stronger you’ll get, and you’ll be able to graduate to the heavier ball.

Lift the medicine ball above your head and lean over to one side. Bring the medicine ball down across your body, so that it’s across the opposite hip. (If you leaned to the right when you raised the ball, your medicine ball should be over by your left hip when you’re done.) This workout not only strengthens your arm muscles, but it also works out your abs!

2. Sitting Bicycle Crunches

Put your palms together at heart center, as if you’re about to tell a yoga teacher, “Namaste.” Angle your forearms so that they’re parallel to your lap. (If it helps with balance, you can interlace your fingers together instead of resting your palms together.)

Twist your body so that your right elbow touches your left knee. Straighten up, and then twist your body so that the opposite elbow is touching your opposite knee. This exercise not only works out your abs but also your obliques!

3. Toe or Knee Lifts

Developing leg strength is still important, even though you have your wheelchair to get you from place to place. If you still have some mobility in your legs, practice lifting your knees up as high as you can. Depending on where you are in your strength training, you can either hold the position for as long as you can or do reps of knee lifts. You can do toe lifts instead of you’re not able to lift your knees.

If you’re not able to move your legs at all, you can still increase blood flow and strengthen your legs by moving them with your arms. Bend down and touch your toes. Grab them firmly and lift them in reps or hold them up for as long as you can (your choice!). You can also bend down and grab your knees to do the same thing.

At Special Strong, we believe fitness should be accessible to everyone. Our personal trainers are not only passionate about health and nutrition. They’re also particularly passionate about teaching those with special needs on how to improve their health and reach their fitness goals. With Special Strong, “healthy” is never too far away! Sign up for private training sessions with a licensed professional or one of our local group classes. If you want to try us out without committing to regular payments just yet, sign up for our free 7-day pass!



Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.
Special Strong provides adaptive fitness for children, adolescents, and adults with mental, physical and cognitive challenges. Start your own Special Strong gym franchise today and create a lasting impact on your community.