How to Lose Weight If You Are in a Wheelchair

Paralyzed man using his wheelchair
Staying active in a wheelchair can help promote weight loss. (Image: Minerva Studio/iStock/Getty Images)

Millions of Americans, young and old, struggle to lose weight. Weight loss is a personal journey that requires discipline in the fields of both nutrition and exercise. People in wheelchairs have an extra challenge, since they cannot move as much of their body as most people can. Limited body movement decreases the options that a person has in terms of exercise and can decrease his motivation, as well. It is still very possible for people in wheelchairs to lose weight, but they need to put a little extra effort into the process.

Step 1

Cut calories by using lower-fat foods instead of high-fat and high-calorie processed foods. One pound equals 3,500 calories. Therefore, in order to lose weight you need to either decrease your caloric intake or burn more calories. Eating 500 fewer calories a day will help you to lose 1 lb. a week. By cutting the fat in your diet, you will automatically eat fewer calories, since fat contains more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein. Try switching from whole milk to 1 percent milk to cut a significant amount of calories. Eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods can also help you to lose weight. Foods that have high water content or high air content will help you feel fuller longer, without adding too many calories. Try broth-based soups or popcorn to promote a feeling of fullness.

Step 2

Choose to drink water instead of juice or soda. Beverages that contain calories generally don't promote a feeling of fullness. You can drink one or two glasses of low fat milk a day, since it is high in calcium for bone health. Throughout the rest of the day, try bringing a water bottle with you everywhere you go. That way you will always stay hydrated and you will resist the urge to drink high calorie drinks.

Step 3

Maintain your mobility and burn calories by getting out of the house and wheeling where you need to go. The more you sit at home immobile, the fewer calories you burn. If you need to go to the store, try going yourself instead of asking someone to go for you. Using your wheelchair to get around utilizes the muscles in your arms and burns calories.

Step 4

Purchase a line of fitness DVDs that specialize in wheelchair exercises. "Sit and Be Fit" is one specific line of exercise videos designed for people in wheelchairs. The official website explains that these 30 minute videos strengthen many different parts of the body. Do as much or as little as you possibly can; the important thing is that you put in the effort. Try to work out to a wheelchair exercise program at least five days a week. You may also be able to rent these DVDs or videos from your local library for free.

Things You'll Need

  • Wheelchair exercise DVDs or videos

  • Low-calorie foods such as fruits, vegetables and broth-based soups

  • Water bottle

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
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