Burn Calories using a manual wheelchair

Dec 08, 2011
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Have you ever wondered how many calories your daily activities burn?

A new article published in the Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly journal gives an analysis of the number of calories burned by a number of common activities, if the person exercising is using a manual wheelchair.

For example, Dusting burns about 65 calories in a half-hour. Compare that to the only 40 calories burned if a person just watches TV.  Maybe it makes sense to dust while watching TV.

Table Tennis burns about 80 calories in a half-hour, which vacuuming burns about 98.

Games like shooting baskets (116 calories), playing Tennis (149 calories), and playing a Basketball game (221 calories) are even more effective at calorie burning.

If you live near a ski resort, it might be fun to go skiing.  It would certainly be good exercise since Nordic skiing burns a whopping 428 calories in a half-hour.

The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults with disabilities should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise – or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.

You can find the whole article at the following website:


Bassett & Conger (2011) A Compendium of Energy Costs of Physical Activities for Individuals Who Use Manual Wheelchairs.  APAQ Volume 28, Issue 4, October. Pages 310-325

Author: Tanya

  • Katja Stokley

    I’d be interested in how many calories are burned pushing a manual wheelchair. Presumably there are different values for flat versus sloped terrain, and mild, moderate and extreme exertion. I’ve encountered a lot of people who believe that they are either expending a lot of calories and/or building a lot of muscle just pushing a chair. My personal experience, based on trying to get aerobic workouts using a manual wheelchair for a couple of years, followed by switching to handcycling and track (racing wheelchair), is that you don’t get much bang for the buck in a manual chair, and it’s better to switch to specialized sports equipment.

  • BobLujano

    I have been pushing a manual chair for about 30 years. You will burn more calories pushing up hills with extreme exertion than you would just casually pushing on a flat surface without exertion. The total calories burned is based on how many times you would push up the hill and for how long. Also, remeber that you are pushing with your upper body, so your muscles are smaller in your upper body, thus calories burned is not as much as lower body.  Pushing a manual chair would only give you cardio endurance. It’s only when you push up hills that strength endurance is developed. Total calories burned in a manual chair has many variables to consider. It is mostly based on your exertion and repetition. Please get with a trainer or nutritionist to evaluate your exercise plan and diet.  

  • Julia Allan

    Very interesting!I found some more information on this website about manual wheelchair: http://www.medicalexpo.com/medical-manufacturer/manual-wheelchair-2091.html

  • bobl07

    Hi Julia. Thank you for your comment and the information.

  • Craig C

    Humankinetics.com wants $25 just to view the article. Wow. This sounds like awesome, useful information, but that’s a bit extreme for one article. Does anyone know if this article is available elsewhere?

  • bobl07

    Thank you for your comments.

  • https://www.aticoexport.com/product_category/physics-lab-equipments/ Varun Chopra

    hello all, i am Lab
    Centrifuge Equipment Manufacturer
    . i read this blog, but still have confusion how it could be possible.

  • Arpit kakkar

    Nice post, its easy to loose weight for them whose have to sit on wheel chair and there is so many advance lab and medical equipments are developed and in trend like blood bag tube sealer, lab centrifuge, bod incubator muffle furnace by the best muffle furnace suppliers for the research and hospitals.