Question: Rocco, Due to a car accident I am in a wheelchair. I am only partially paralyzed (I can stand and walk short distances) but will need the use of the wheelchair for the rest of my life. I am still young (19) and want to be otherwise healthy for the rest of my life. What exercises can I do to keep my heart and lungs health?
Answer: At 19 years old you have your whole life ahead of you. It sounds so friggin cliché, but sometimes there is real truth in clichés. The accident robbed you of your legs but not your spirit and thats really where life is.
Your attitude will take you to experiences that you may never have gotten the chance to take part in otherwise. Keeping your body fit and well enough to take part in those experiences is the smartest thing you can do. I hope to meet you someday so I can shake your hand and meet a real life inspiration. Now that my eyes have welled up and I cant see my computer keyboard, Im just going to have to wing it.
Actually, using your wheelchair can be a great exercise tool. It can give you incredible arm, shoulder, chest, back and midsection strength. If you vigorously push yourself around the track or up and down small hills to start, and then move up to larger hills when you can.
I also recommend getting out of the chair and doing negative push-ups, walking crabs (walking on your hands out in front of your body, in an upright position). If you can grab a bar and pull yourself up into a pull up position for repetitions, have at it. An exercise I call reach for the sky is excellent for the shoulders and arms (go to askROCCO.com to view the video of this exercise). I hope this helps and write me back with your progress.