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- A Neat Way to Get Around Town: PoleWheeling
- Wheelchair skills training for community-based manual wheelchair users: A randomized controlled trial
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Exerstrider Fitness (www.walkingpoles.com)
I have long believed that wheelchair users would one day discover that walking poles can offer both an alternative means of propelling their wheelchairs and an effective way of exercising large core strength upper-body muscles. Terry is among the first to confirm this belief. Terry is quite an athlete, as can be viewed in the attached images. I call people like Terry "high-performance paradigm" exercisers. I'll wager that many of those who read about Terry's walking pole experience have less athletic outlooks and lifestyles. Terry's exhilarating 2.5-mile maiden voyage using walking poles to propel her wheelchair is likely to inspire some but may intimidate many others.
Walking poles and exercise in general are not just for athletes! For those who don't see themselves as athletes but who still want to enjoy the many benefits that derive from more active living, I offer a new paradigm of exercise. I call this new paradigm "high-function" exercise. Unlike the dominant "high-performance" exercise paradigm, the aim of high-function exercise is simply to improve overall physical function." Rather than promoting participation in high-intensity, sports-based exercise programs that are designed to improve "physical performance" (which obviously serve some well but exclude many more), this new more inclusive paradigm encourages people to simply put their body to "good use." The actual definition of exercise is "the act of putting to use." Walking poles allow both walkers and wheelchair users to put their upper body to good use with the aim of improving overall physical function.
For athletes like Terry, an exhilarating, high-speed adventure with the walking poles may be just the ticket, but for those wheelchair users to whom such a session might seem intimidating or downright frightening, I hope you too will consider giving walking poles a try. What they offer any wheelchair user is an opportunity to "put to use" important core strength muscles, rather than just arm and shoulder muscles, to propel the wheelchair. This offers wheelchair users a unique opportunity to begin to develop abdominal, back, shoulder, arm, and chest strength and endurance without the need for trips to a gym or specialized workouts. When the large core strength muscles of the upper body get seriously involved in propelling a wheelchair, more calories are burned and greater cardiovascular fitness can be built. Good use of large upper-body muscles can bring about gradual improvements in overall physical function and help create positive changes in body composition. And all this can happen whether you use the walking poles to speed along a road or track or simply use the walking poles routinely (or occasionally) as an optional means of propelling a wheelchair.
I'll look forward to hearing from others about their experiences as they try combining walking poles with wheelchair use!