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NCHPAD - Building Healthy Inclusive Communities

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Inclusive Activities


By: Stephanie L. Silveira

Media outlets and individual experts often release recommendations for 100-calorie workouts for the workplace.  We know sedentary time at your desk can have a negative impact on weight maintenance, so finding ways to be more active throughout your day can help with your general health and fitness.

In some cases, individuals with a disability, such as those who use a wheelchair or experience mobility or balance impairments, may not be as familiar with activities that can burn 100 calories, especially in the workplace.  Additionally, workplace wellness programs that focus on such objectives as walking 10,000 steps or up a certain number of stairs each day may not be feasible for everyone.  With that in mind, the following are exercises, resources, and a sample routine that can be used to create tailored and inclusive 100-calorie workouts to incorporate into the work day.

There are several seated exercises to help increase one’s physical activity level in the workplace.  For example, chair dips are a great strength-building exercise often seen in fitness facilities.  They are also a great exercise to do while at work or any other time of the day.  When doing these, be sure any wheelchair breaks are on or transfer to an office chair with arms and ensure you are on a flat surface with no obstacles nearby.    Place your hands on the handles, armrests, or wheels, and try pushing yourself up off of the seat cushion as many times as possible for one minute.  Be sure to extend your elbows completely straight if possible, or as close to straight as comfortable with if fully straight is not feasible or causes pain.  Keep track of how many dips you can do and try to match or beat that number each time.  Doing this exercise for just five minutes per day on average can help you burn up to 100 extra calories per week!  As a bonus, chair dips can also help with other life activities, such as transferring out of a wheelchair, carrying groceries or other bags, and preventing pressure sores.

We have also put together a five-minute interval training routine that can be performed at your desk.  Perform each exercise for one full minute, then rest one minute before moving on to the next exercise, for a total of five minutes:

Exercise 1:  Desk Push-Ups

Find a table or desk in a secure place at a height that allows you to move your chest back and forth with your elbows moving backwards as they bend.  Again, ensure wheelchair breaks are set if you have them, or that you are on a flat, secure surface.  Bend your elbows until your chest touches the desk, and then straighten your elbows back out as much as you can.  See how many push-ups you can complete in one minute!  Rest for one minute before the next exercise.

Exercise 2: Arm Circles

Find or create enough room to extend your arms out fully to the sides to do arm circles.  Try big and small circles, circling forward and backwards, and other variations and methods, whatever helps you keep them moving for a full minute!  Rest for one minute before the next exercise.

Exercise 3: Arm Punches

Channel your inner boxer to finish off with some arm punches.  Again ensuring you have enough room for a fully range of arm motion, try punching forwards, sideways, or up in the air.  Just try to keep moving for a full minute in whatever manner(s) works best for you.

Doing this five-minute routine twice every workday can help you burn up to 100 extra calories per week and provide 10 minutes towards your move goal!

Additionally, we know walking is good for our general health and wellness, and that taking breaks at work to walk can help with our health, productivity, and reaching our movement goal for the day.  Research shows that just 10 minutes of wheelchair walking per day can burn up to 40 calories!  If possible and safe, go outside to walk and also enjoy some fresh air for 10 minutes. After lunch is a great time, as it can help aid in your digestion, as is around two or three in the afternoon, when you may start to feel that afternoon crash.  Whether inside or outside, take a break to walk and encourage co-workers to join or have a walking meeting in place of sedentary meetings.

For more information about and examples of exercises at your desk, or “deskercises,” see previous articles posted by NCHPAD:
•    Deskercise! 20 Ways to Get Moving While You Work
•    Inclusive Worksite Wellness Tips


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