Staying active is important for everyone, but it may be even more important for those with disabilities. Having a disability doesn’t equate to lack of health, and it definitely doesn’t mean that you can’t be healthy and active. Here are some tips for staying active while living with a disability.
Know What You’re Shooting For
What is “active”? When one thinks about staying active, is that a measurable thing? In reality, “active” is different for everyone and largely depends on your specific disability and what your body can handle. While you want to push yourself, you never want to overextend yourself to the point of additional injury.
As far as guidelines go, the CDC has some basic benchmarks for what it means to be “active”.
“Adults with disabilities should try to get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) a week of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e., brisk walking; wheeling oneself in a wheelchair) or at least 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e., jogging, wheelchair basketball) or a mix of both moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activities each week. A rule of thumb is that 1 minute of vigorous-intensity activity is about the same as 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity. They should avoid inactivity as some physical activity is better than none.”
Trying to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day (while taking a break one or two days during the week) is a good place to begin.
Get a Dog
Dogs are great exercise motivators. They need exercise, and so do you. You can hold each other accountable, if you will. Dogs don’t judge your physical abilities and will not mind if you need to take things slow at times. For some, dogs are better than human trainers.
“The beauty of owning a dog is that their care requires exercise, which in turn makes their owners more active,” says the International Center for Disability Resources on the Internet. “Whether it’s going outside for a walk, dueling in a game of tug-of-war, or heading to the backyard for a game of fetch, playing with your dog is a great way to get cardiovascular, resistance, and aerobic exercise. Dogs are also fantastic motivators; they don’t care how well you play or how quickly you walk, so long as you join in on the fun!”
Get Involved In Adaptive Sports
Adaptive sports, put in the simplest terms, are versions of able-bodied sports that have been adapted in some way to accommodate those with certain disabilities. Think wheelchair basketball, or lie-down surfing. Adaptive sports are a way to get your daily activity in without being limited to “boring” exercises.
DisabledSportsUSA has a large database of adaptive sport resources, including information on adaptive scuba, tennis, basketball, sled hockey, skiing, and more. Modern technology has progressed so much in the past few decades as to allow those with disabilities to experience many sports and activities. Take for instance downhill skiing, which is one of the most popular sports among people with disabilities. Today, mono-skis and sit-skis are allowing those with paraplegia to experience the rush of the slopes. Organizations exist for the sole purpose of getting those with disabilities into the ocean and onto a surfboard, with the help of spotters.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless. With adaptive sports, you can stay fit and active while also pushing your limits and, most importantly, having a ton of fun.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com