8 Wheelchair, Sitting and Adapted Floor Workouts

Being active is great for our health and wellbeing. It maintains cardiovascular health (preventing conditions like stroke and heart disease), boosts mental health and self-esteem, and assists our bodies in managing blood sugar and insulin levels, which can help with weight control. 

Exercise also has developmental benefits for children and young people. As well as supporting physical development (strength, stability, mobility), movement can boost cognitive skills like planning, problem solving and bilateral integration – using the two sides of the body and brain together. 

Exercise for children who are wheelchair users is especially important as they move less day to day than their peers. No matter what fitness level or physical abilities our child has, moving a little bit more than normal will help them get fitter and stronger. Any movement counts!

Because it’s not always possible to get out, exercising at home can be a nice option for our children. The Internet is a great place to start – there are lots of freely available exercise videos online, some of which are specifically aimed at children with additional needs. We share some of our favourites below.

exercise for children in wheelchairs
  • Improves strength which leads to better gross motor skills and more independent living.

  • Exercise can help to maintain or increase muscle length through active stretching – keeping ranges of motion in joints and enabling better gross motor skills and thus improved function and independence.

  • Improves sleep which is so critical for development.

  • Reduces constipation – as the body moves, the muscles in the stomach contracts and helps move stomach contents to help with painful trapped wind and constipation.

  • Protect joints by increasing muscle strength which takes pressure off the joints. This can prevent or reduce joint pain.

  • The pull of muscles and weight bearing both increase bone density – reducing the risk of fractures.

  • Exercise can reduce fatigue and improve exercise tolerance so improving function and independence in every day tasks. 

These videos are for children in wheelchairs but you could adapt them if your child works well in a high kneeling position

  • This video provides slower paced wheelchair exercises.  

  • It has been made for those with spinal injuries but would work well for those with physical difficulties with arm involvement/quadriplegia.

  • There are some lovely exercises at the end with weights – use socks, bottles, herb bottles or anything you’ve got lying around the house instead! 

  • These videos created by Teens on the Move are great for young people in wheelchairs or with some standing ability. They are mostly aerobic exercises to get your child out of breath and good for keeping them mobile in their chair – great for all round fitness.  

  • These great ‘getting started’ videos by Parasport have some lovely wheelchair exercises for arms and some leg exercises – great stretches.

  • This also has some options for people who can stand – or they can mix and match if your child tire easily. 

  • Another lovely video from Parasport but this is for an aerobics workout. 

  • This also has some options for people who can stand – or they can mix and match if your child tire easily. 

  • This first video shows neck, arm and shoulder positions and stretches – going through all the movements in clear and easy to follow instructions. 

  • This concentrates more on the spine but also involves some arm movements at the same time. 

  • This series has been done by health professionals and therapists and there are a few different options:

  • Triplegia (3 limbs affected), Hypotonia (low tone, floppiness), Diplegia (legs affected) and Ataxia.

  • These are all for mobile children but you may be able to adapt for some of the children who aren’t quite walking.

  • This is a series of high intensity, cardio workouts to do in a wheelchair or in a sitting position.  

  • They are probably best for those of your children with moderate to high function in their arms and body. There is some leg work but your child can keep going with their arms if they are unable to follow the leg exercises. The exercises are fast paced but your child can follow at their own speed and join in with the bits they are able to do.  

  • If you don’t have a stretchy band, use a tin/ bottle/ piece of fruit etc to add some weight to the movement. As they get used to the exercises, they can try to stretch further in each movement or increase their speed or weight to progress.   

Thank you for visiting Gympanzees’ website. All information provided by Gympanzees is of general nature and for educational / entertainment purposes. It is up to you as the parent or family member to judge what is appropriate and safe for your child. No information provided by Gympanzees should replace any professional information and advice that you have been given and speak to your therapist or doctor if you are unsure of anything. Should you use any of the information provided by Gympanzees, you do so at your own risk and hold Gympanzees harmless from any and all losses, liabilities, injuries or damages resulting from any and all claims.