Wheelchair users and disabled people

If you have physical disabilities, it may be easy to overlook fitness and exercise, but in fact it can bring many physical, emotional and social benefits to your health.

You should still aim for the recommended physical activity guidelines of both muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercise.

Finding an activity that works for you is key. You can do this on your own but consider contacting your local gym, leisure centre or Scottish Disability Sport. Ask if they have inclusive opportunities, adapted equipment or exercise classes you can take part in.

Muscle strengthening exercises

Think about the muscles you use most and those you use least. If you’re in a wheelchair it’s likely that you work the muscles in your arms, chest and shoulders most for pushing and turning your wheelchair.

It’s important to exercise muscles elsewhere in your body where possible, particularly in your back. Not only can this help you to stay active but it can help you avoid strain or injuries. Try to find an activity that works muscles you may not otherwise be using.

The following are just some suggestions:

Aerobic activity

There will likely be a range of options available for you to get a good amount of physical activity, during which you should try to be active enough to raise your heart rate and become warm enough to break a sweat.

Consider some of the following activities:

  • adapted sports such as wheelchair basketball, football or netball
  • table tennis, badminton or tennis
  • martial arts
  • swimming or water aerobics
  • jogging or running

It’s important to allow enough time for your body to recover between exercise sessions. Also ensure you’re eating a healthy balanced diet which will help your muscles and bones become strong and repair themselves.

If you have any questions about getting more exercise, speak to your GP who will be able to offer advice specific to your condition.

Last updated:
01 December 2022

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