Feel the Burn

Reprinted from PN January 2012

Manual-wheelchair users can burn extra calories, according to a University of Tennessee study.

View Forum | Print Article | Font Size + / - | Back

Staying fit and healthy is a challenge for everyone, and a new study finds burning a few extra calories isn’t that tough to do for people in wheelchairs.

An article written by David R. Bassett Jr. of the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies at the University of Tennessee, shows a person who uses a manual wheelchair can burn up to 120 calories in half an hour while wheeling at 2 mph on a flat surface. That is three times as much as someone doing the same action in a motorized wheelchair. The same person in a manual wheelchair expends 127 calories while mopping for 30 minutes.

The article, which Bassett co-wrote with former UT graduate student Scott A. Conger, was published in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, a journal issued by Human Kinetics, Inc. It calculates the calorie costs of various physical activities for people who use manual wheelchairs and summarizes them into a first-of-its-kind list.

“It might be simply wheeling their chair along while taking their dog for a walk or playing wheelchair basketball,” says Bassett. “You can still burn a significant number of calories.”

Bassett co-wrote another document entitled the 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities for able-bodied people. The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, contains a list of activities that is continually updated and is widely used. But he saw a need to develop a comparable resource for those who
use wheelchairs.

Bassett and Conger reviewed more than 250 studies containing energy expenditure data for wheelchair-related physical activities. They identified 63 activities, ranging from being sedentary to household chores and transportation to exercise.

A partial list of wheelchair-related activities and their caloric burn (performed by a 160-pound adult in 30 minutes):

Dusting – 65

Table tennis – 80

Vacuuming – 98

Tennis – 149

Basketball – 221

Nordic sit-skiing – 428


Contact: Lola Alapo, 865-974-3993,   


To read more about this, order the January 2012 PN, Click Here.
To Subscribe, Click Here.

Article Forum

PN Forum discussions are intended to provide a place for free-flowing exchange of information, opinions, and comments and are designed to provide an enjoyable and informative expression for all participants.
Please review our Forum Rules for complete details.

Login with username and password (Forgot Password?)
New Post

Feel the Burn


Be the first to comment on this article.
(Register or login to add comments.)