The importance of exercising with a disability
Exercising with a disability can be challenging, but it’s incredibly important for overall health and well-being. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to a variety of health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, and people with disabilities are at an even greater risk for these conditions. In addition to physical health benefits, exercise can also improve mental health, increase independence, and enhance overall quality of life.
Learning how to exercise with a disability
I personally have Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 1. This is also known as Brittle Bones Disease. I’ve fractured just about 75 times, have steel rods in all four long bones in my legs (tibias and femurs), and I struggled for a long time with the limitations of my disability. I used a wheelchair when I was a kid, moved onto crutches in my teen years, and then took my first unassisted steps when I was 24 years old. Because of the nature of my disability – fragile bones – I remained active for most of my adulthood until I was 42 years old. You can read all about my journey in my book, “Disable Your Disability: Live the Healthy Life You Deserve!” Check it out by clicking here.
Consult with a healthcare professional first
One of the most important things to keep in mind when exercising with a disability is to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist before starting any exercise program. They can help determine what types of exercise are safe and appropriate for your specific condition and abilities.
Types of exercises to do if you have a disability
There are many different types of exercise that can be modified to suit the needs of people with disabilities. Aerobic exercises, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, can help improve cardiovascular health and increase endurance. Resistance training, such as weightlifting, can help build muscle and improve bone density. Yoga and tai chi can help improve balance and flexibility. Adaptive sports, such as wheelchair basketball or wheelchair tennis, can provide a fun way to stay active and meet other people with disabilities.
Exercising with mobility impairments
For people with mobility impairments, chair exercises can be a great option. These exercises can be done sitting in a chair and can include things like arm curls, leg lifts, and abdominal crunches. For people with visual impairments, audio-described classes or workout videos can be helpful.
Exercising for people with cognitive or developmental disabilities
For people with cognitive or developmental disabilities, it may be helpful to start with simple exercises and gradually increase difficulty. It can also be helpful to incorporate visual aids or verbal cues to help with understanding and motivation.
Other things to consider when exercising with a disability
Exercising when you do not have a disability can be challenging enough, but when you layer on the disability, there are other things to consider that will be helpful in achieving your health and fitness goals;
- It’s important to remember that exercise doesn’t have to be done in a gym or formal setting. Activities such as gardening, household chores, and leisurely walks can all provide physical activity and health benefits.
- For people with disabilities, it may be helpful to find a workout partner or join a support group for people with similar conditions. This can provide motivation, encouragement, and a sense of community.
- It’s also important to remember that progress may be slower for people with disabilities and to be patient with oneself. Setting small, achievable goals and celebrating progress can help maintain motivation.
Exercising is very important for people with disabilities
Exercising with a disability can be challenging, but it is incredibly important for overall health and well-being. With the help of a healthcare professional, adaptive equipment, and a positive attitude, anyone can find a way to stay active and healthy.
Financial challenges involved with exercising if you have a disability
It’s also important to note that many insurance plans and government programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, offer coverage for adaptive equipment, therapy, and other benefits that can help with exercising with a disability. It’s worth looking into what options are available to you.
Anyone with a disability should consider exercising
In conclusion, exercising with a disability is crucial to overall health and well-being. With the proper guidance and support, anyone can find a way to stay active and healthy despite their physical limitations. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional, find a workout partner or support group, and take advantage of any resources and benefits that may be available to you.
It’s also important to remember that the key is to find what works for you and your body, as each person’s experience of disability is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. And remember to be kind to yourself and celebrate progress, no matter how small.
I wrote about my journey of learning how to embrace my disability (Osteogenesis Imperfecta aka Brittle Bones Disease) to get and stay healthy in my book, “Disable Your Disability: Live the Healthy Life You Deserve!” You can get a copy by clicking here.
If you have a disability and you’re interested in starting your fitness journey, join the #UNBREAKABLE BODY online adaptive fitness platform and start exercising today! Get all the details and sign up here: https://www.tonyjacobsen.com/body
(Tony Jacobsen is an author and motivational speaker who lives with Osteogenesis Imperfecta Type 1. Learn more about him and his journey to make the world #UNBREAKABLE at https://www.tonyjacobsen.com)