International Wheelchair Day: Focus on wheelchair wellness

Regular health check-ups are essential for early detection of potential issues among wheelchair users.
Image used for representational purposes only
Image used for representational purposes only

HYDERABAD: Prioritising a healthy and active lifestyle is paramount for everyone, especially wheelchair users, who are more susceptible to chronic diseases. As March 1, marks International Wheelchair Day, CE seeks advice from experts on fitness and overall well-being.

An article by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention highlights the increased incidence of chronic diseases among wheelchair users, including CVD, cancer, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Dr Arun Dev, an Orthopedic Consultant at Renova Hospitals, underscores this, stating, “Wheelchair users face a heightened risk of certain chronic diseases, largely due to the sedentary lifestyle often associated with reduced mobility. These include cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Lack of physical activity can lead to diminished muscle tone and strength, exacerbating these risks. Moreover, challenges in accessing fitness facilities tailored to wheelchair users’ needs further emphasise the necessity for targeted health interventions and accessible fitness options.”

The lack of physical activity underpins these health risks. However, with the right approach to fitness, nutrition, and preventive care, wheelchair users can significantly reduce their risk of chronic diseases. Dr Ather Pasha, Senior Consultant in General Medicine at CARE Hospitals, recommends several exercises to aid in disease prevention. Adaptive Strength Training focusing on the upper body, including arms, shoulders, and chest, is crucial. Resistance bands and hand weights can effectively build strength.

Regular cardiovascular exercise is also essential. This includes wheelchair sprints, pushing exercises, or navigating different terrains. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio most days of the week to promote heart health. Additionally, maintaining flexibility and balance is vital. Incorporate stretching exercises to keep muscles supple and practice balance exercises through controlled movements.

Recognising that physical activity may be limited, Dr Ather Pasha emphasises the importance of a nutrient-rich diet to support overall health. He advises including a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Prioritising foods rich in vitamins and minerals strengthens the immune system. Wheelchair users should be mindful of portion control due to potentially lower energy expenditure. Staying adequately hydrated is also crucial for digestion, circulation, and overall well-being.

Regular health check-ups are essential for early detection of potential issues among wheelchair users. Scheduled appointments with healthcare professionals ensure timely intervention. Maintaining up-to-date immunisations is crucial for preventing diseases. Following recommended health screening guidelines, including screenings for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and osteoporosis, aids in early intervention and management. Additionally, adopting healthy habits like avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol intake, and practicing stress management techniques contribute to overall well-being.

Wheelchair users can take charge of their health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases through adaptive fitness routines, a balanced diet, and proactive preventive measures. Consultation with healthcare professionals ensures a personalised and effective approach to wellness.

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