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What People Don’t Know About Staying Fit In a Wheelchair

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
07/27/16  4:30 PM PST
Staying Fit In a Wheelchair

“What People Don’t Know About Staying Fit In a Wheelchair” by Kristen Parisi for Shape

I’m 31 years old, and I’ve been using a wheelchair since the age of five due to a spinal cord injury that left me paralyzed from the waist down. Growing up overly aware of my lack of control of my lower body and in a family that’s battled weight issues, I was concerned about staying fit from a young age. For me, it’s always been about so much more than vanity—people in wheelchairs need to maintain a healthy weight in order to stay independent.

If I get too heavy, I can’t do basic things like shower or get myself in and out of my bed or car. The strength in my arms and stomach muscles are vital to everything I do from the moment I wake up. I can’t push myself around the city if I don’t consistently work to keep my strength up. Most people don’t realize this, but when you’re in a wheelchair, it’s so much more important to watch what you eat and keep moving. Otherwise, muscles that are weak to begin with become even weaker when you’re not consistently using them. In other words: You need to work twice as hard to get half as far.

For years, I limited myself mentally and physically because I thought things weren’t possible and I was afraid of hurting myself.  I thought that “running” (ie: pushing myself fast and quick) was enough, that I could eat the same as my able-bodied friends, and that I could do it all on my own. Yet through years of trial and error, I’ve learned there are way more options available to me than I thought and that I can find a fitness plan that works for me. Here, the lessons along the way about staying fit in a wheelchair.

Read the Full Article on Shape.

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