As the province prepares to slow the curve of the coronavirus (COVID-19), more and more it is important to increase social distancing to limit the virus’s spread. This will likely mean, especially for those with weaker immune systems, long periods of time at home.
It is important to keep ourselves busy and active even while at home. Being physical active not only helps pass the time, but keeps us physically and mentally healthy.
Art Monforte, Para-Fitness and Strength Coach at Sport Manitoba’s Performance Centre, provided us with 10 exercises you can do to keep active using common household items:
1. Dynamic Stretching – compare to static stretching where you hold a position for a certain period of time, dynamic stretches are active movements where you continuously moving your body increasing its body temperature, breathing and heart rate. Examples of dynamic stretching include: side arm small and big circles, seated jumping jacks, arms crisscross, arms freestyle, and alternated backstroke.
2. Stationary Forward Wheelchair Push and Pull – without touching the rims of your wheels you can mimic the movement of the wheelchair propulsion by pushing forwards and pulling backwards To add some intensity, you can carry a light weight while doing a movement… a bottle of water can work too!
3. Back-to-Wall Shoulder Flexion – this simple exercise is very effective for shoulder health especially for wheelchair users. What it does is it teaches the shoulder blade to move around the ribcage reducing the winging of the scapula. To add some intensity, you can pull and elastic band or hold a water bottle while doing the movement. To do this exercise, you need to lean against your wheelchair or your back against the wall and slowly raise both your arms until you touch the wall with your thumb. Exhale as you reach the top of the movement.
4. Push Ups – a very useful body weight exercise that allows you to do it everywhere from your bed to the floor. If this is too difficult, you can elevate yourself leaning on a chair against a wall.
5. Overhead Press – a very important exercise to keep our upper body in shape and to strengthen the muscles we use to reach things overhead. You can do these exercises alternating shoulder pressing to engage core muscles as well. Like any other weight-lifting exercises, if you don’t have any dumbbells or weights a bottle of water would work perfectly as well! To do this exercise, you need to seat with back straight, chest out and with core engage. Hold a dumbbell or water bottle in each hand at shoulders with an overhand grip. Raise the weights above the head in a controlled movement all the way to the top, pause for two seconds then go back to the starting position slowly.
6. Wheelchair Side-to-Side Floor Touch – sitting up straight, lean sideways touching the floor with the other hand holding the handrim (for those who don’t have core strength) or without for a more challenging core exercise. Return back upright and repeat the lean on the other side. Continue the exercise in an alternating method.
7. Broomstick Back and Front Raise – these exercises improves your shoulder mobility and stretches your chest and arm muscles. To do this exercise you need to grab the stick with a wide grip. Keep your arms and elbows straight forward. Lift the broomstick up and over your head then all the way back as you can keeping your elbows straight.
8. Angel Wall Stretch – a very useful exercise to improve upper back posture as well to mobilize and strengthen shoulder muscles. To do this exercise, lean your back against the wall, keeping your lower back flat. Bring out your arms at a 90° angle with your elbows bent and hands up. Your elbows and the back of your hands should be against the wall. Breathe in and slide your hands and elbows up the wall until you feel some tension, breath out and lower your arms back to 90°.
9. Seated Trunk Rotation – Sit with knees and feet together, with straight back and chest out. Grab the back rest and the wheel with the opposite shoulder then rotate the trunk to the same side.
10. Ramp Pushes: – If you have a ramp or angled drive-way at home, you can use this to stimulate your cardio system. You can push at a comfortable speed or use explosive (hard, fast) pushes to increase the intensity of this exercise. This exercise can also be used going backwards, and will target the opposite group of muscles from the forward push.
Note: Resistance Bands – these are very effective tool to add intensity to your exercises at home. Compare to dumbbells, these bands are very easy to use, safe and effective.
Art Monforte is the Para-Fitness and Strength Coach at Sport Manitoba’s Performance Centre. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health at the University of Florence, Italy. Art is an avid wheelchair basketball player who competed with Team Manitoba at the 2016 CWBL Nationals.