When you have a condition or disability that limits what you can physically do, it can certainly make working out more difficult. The trick to staying fit is finding activities you can manage (or those than can be adapted) that you actually enjoy. Disability or not, we all need to stay as active as we can to keep both our bodies and mental health in check. Studies have shown that those with disabilities who are involved in sports and fitness activities have lower stress and anger scores, and also feel happier and more included. By taking part in an activity you enjoy you prevent your condition from ruling your life, and it can also help you to meet people in a similar position to you. Here are a few low impact activities that might work for you, even if you find standing, walking or high impact exercise difficult.
Golf is a relaxing hobby, it’s something that anyone can enjoy but it’s particularly popular with older adults as it’s low impact. It gets you outside and boosts mood, as you’re spending time in nature and getting some fresh air- but doesn’t require you to break a sweat. If you’re able to swing a golf club then this could be for you, even if you can’t walk very far as there are electric golf carts you can buy or hire that can get you from hole to hole. There are lots of clubs that offer disability specific lessons, and with adaptations such as lighter clubs there are plenty of ways it can work for you. Golf can improve balance, strengthen muscles and it’s generally a relaxing and enjoyable hobby. Of course, it won’t be for everyone with a disability or health condition but if you think it would be suitable for you, do some research and find out what’s available around you. It can be a wonderful way to keep active and get outdoors without putting unnecessary stress on your body.
Because the water supports your weight, swimming is ideal for anyone who struggles with high impact activities. If you have a bad back, bad knees or generally can’t stand or walk for a long time then getting in the pool could be your best option. With floats and other aides available you can perform all kinds of activities and exercise even without needing to fully swim. It’s good for both cardio and toning, and again there are often classes and clubs for those with limitations due to health so it’s always worth seeing what’s available to you. They can help to build up your confidence and will have the right equipment and techniques to allow you to swim in a safe way. If you’re not a strong swimmer, there’s no worry about getting literally thrown in at the deep end! You can start slow and do what you’re comfortable with and work your way up. You will more than likely find that after a few weeks of sessions in the pool, you’re much stronger out of it too. This could give you the boost you need to go and try new activities, as you’ve built up a foundation level of fitness.
3. Wheelchair Team Sports
If you use a wheelchair, there are plenty of wheelchair team sports you can get involved in. From basketball to tennis to rugby and softball. You also have more extreme sports like snow sports and motocross! Whatever your interest is, chances are there will be activities out there that you can get involved in. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet others in a similar situation with similar interests, and allows you to keep fit and have fun. As someone in a wheelchair, getting enough cardio activity can be difficult but these kinds of sports boost fitness and endurance, improve muscle tone, and reduce your risk of many chronic diseases long term. They can help you to lose weight (or maintain a healthy weight) which again can be tricky when you’re a wheelchair user. Balance and coordination is improved, and there are numerous mental health benefits.
There are many benefits of practicing yoga. Increased flexibility, improved muscle strength, better posture, better bone health, boosted immunity and drained lymph are something that everyone practicing yoga can enjoy. But yoga isn’t limited to the able bodied, and is particularly good for those who have health or physical conditions. It’s low impact so won’t aggravate joints, and it can be adapted to suit your specific needs. You can do yoga from a chair or wheelchair, from the floor or standing depending on your disability or health issues. You can build it up slowly, and done correctly it will provide you with wonderful benefits without hurting or over straining you. Yoga is highly recommended for both elderly and disabled people, again it can improve the body as well as the mind and is something you can make work for you. Companies like YogaMobility specialise in working with those with limitations so can guide you through the process and tailor stretches, movements and activities especially for you. Yoga is closely linked with mental health, and focuses on breathing techniques and releasing negative energy. Again, this is something that will benefit everyone but may be particularly useful when you’re dealing with frustrations of health problems.
Getting out there and trying a new activity will benefit you in body and mind. It allows you to be proactive, and take control of your life without your disability or health condition holding you back. You’ll learn new skills, meet new people and have fun in the process. Have a think about your specific interests and do some research, there’s much more out there to assist disabled people in sports than you might think.
If you have a disability or health condition, how do you stay fit? What advice would you give to those in the same position as you?