This week’s hot topic on Disability Living is obesity. So far, we have discussed the definitions of obesity and overweight (http://www.disabilityliving.ca/disability-canada-overweight-obese-definition-calculate-body-mass-index-bmi/), what to do if you are overweight or obese (http://www.disabilityliving.ca/disability-canada-what-to-do-if-you-are-overweight-or-obese/) and eating healthy on a small budget (http://www.disabilityliving.ca/disability-canada-how-eat-healthy-small-budget-poor-economy-food-tips-health/).
Perhaps you have discovered that you are overweight or obese and want to do something about it. That’s great! But is something holding you up? Perhaps you have limited mobility and/or use a wheelchair. Is that causing you to feel discouraged about weight loss?
How does weight loss work for a wheelchair user?
It’s true that losing weight while in a wheelchair can pose difficulties. The fact that a wheelchair user can’t do “typical” exercises is an obstacle that can result in a lower amount of calories burned per day.
The good news is, you don’t have to compare yourself to anyone else. This journey is all about you, and if it takes you a little longer to lose excess weight than someone else, that is alright.
Wheelchair users can lose weight.
How? The same way anyone else loses weight–by burning a sufficient amount of calories everyday.
This may sound easy. We know that burning a sufficient amount of calories for weight loss each day may be harder for a wheelchair user–we are not denying this hardship. But with few tips, a wheelchair user can successfully lose excess weight.
Ways to lose weight while in a wheelchair:
– Know your caloric needs – As a wheelchair user, your caloric needs are probably quite a bit lower than a non-wheelchair user’s. Physicians at the Spina Bifida Association commented that “most adults in wheelchairs only need fewer than 1,100 calories per day.”
Your daily caloric needs could be different from this figure. Please consult with your doctor to determine your approximate caloric needs.
– Focus on vitamins C and A – Why? Because vitamins C and A “are vital for people confined to wheelchairs because they promote a healthy urinary tract and build immunity to skin problems.” Another important nutrient is calcium–it prevents osteoporosis. Remember, vitamin D is necessary for calcium absorption, so you will want to include that in your diet as well.
– Exercise in ways that are possible for you – Exercise will help you to burn more calories. This will increase your rate of weight loss. What exercises can you do if you are bound to a wheelchair? http://exercise.about.com/cs/exdisabilities/a/disabilities.htm will lead you to a website that features exercises that may work for someone who uses a wheelchair.
– Consume enough fibre – Fibre is important for people in wheelchairs because it “helps those with compromised digestive systems to maintain proper bowel movements and healthy skin, avoiding pressure sores and constipation.” Fibre is also reported to help you feel more satiated, helping to curb your appetite.
Discuss how much daily fibre you should consume with your physician.
– Don’t forget vegetables and fruits – We would all do well to eat more produce–this is especially true for those in wheelchairs. Why? Because certain fruits and vegetables supply the body with potassium. Potassium “regulates blood pressure, improves heart and kidney functions and maintains a proper fluid balance in the body.”
Do you need to lose weight? Are you a wheelchair user? If the answer to both of these questions is “yes,” rest assured that you can reach your goal. Remember, it is always advised to check with your doctor before making lifestyle changes.
*Please note: All research for this article is compiled from direct and third party sources. Mention of programs, organizations and companies does not imply support of The National Benefit Authority. Pictures are for creative purposes only; they are not intended to sell or promote products for the NBA and belong to the accredited individual, organization or company.
Let’s Talk About It
Do you use a wheelchair? If so, what struggles have you experienced in attempting weight loss?
What do you think would be the greatest weight loss obstacle for someone in a wheelchair or with limited mobility?