Exercising for any Age or Ability

If you consider yourself less than physically abled, visually impaired, and/or on the older side you may think it is too hard to nearly impossible to find a doable exercise routine. Luckily, through technology, there are many resources available to help ensure you can get a healthy and safe workout. This blog will look at suggestions for overcoming barriers to obtaining regular exercise, resources anyone can use, as well as resources specifically for persons with visual impairments.

Overcoming Barriers

HelpGuide states that you do not need to have full mobility to experience the health benefits of exercise. If injury, disability, illness, or weight problems have limited your mobility, there are still plenty of ways you can use exercise to boost your mood, ease depression, relieve stress and anxiety, enhance your self-esteem, and improve your whole outlook on life.

It is common for people to feel self-conscious about their weight, disability, illness, or injury, and want to avoid working out in public places. Some older people find that they are fearful about falling or otherwise injuring themselves.

Do not focus on your mobility or health issue. Instead of worrying about the activities you cannot enjoy, concentrate on finding activities that you can.

The more physical challenges you face, the more creative you will need to be to find an exercise routine that works for you. If you used to enjoy jogging or cycling, for example, but injury, disability, or illness means that they are no longer options, be prepared to try new exercises. With some experimenting, it is very possible that you will find something you enjoy just as much.

Be proud when you make the effort to exercise, even if it is not very successful at first. It will get easier the more you practice.

Practice positive self-talk. When certain excuses enter your head think of alternatives to dispel them. A few examples are:

Negative thought, I’m scared of injury. Positive replacement thought, I can choose low-risk activities, such as walking or chair-bound exercises, and warm-up and cool-down correctly to avoid muscle strains and other injuries.

Negative thought, I’m not coordinated or athletic. Positive replacement thought, I can choose exercise that requires little or no skill, such as walking, cycling on a stationary bike, or aqua jogging (running in a swimming pool).

Negative thought, exercise is boring. Positive replacement thought, but video games are fun. I could try playing activity-based video games, known as “exergames.” (Games that simulate bowling, tennis, or boxing, for example, can all be played seated in a chair or wheelchair and are fun ways to burn calories and elevate your heart rate, either alone or playing along with friends.)

SilverSneakers®

In addition to free online resources outlined below, more advanced sources are available through many Medicare Advantage plans. In their FAQ section they state that, SilverSneakers® is a comprehensive program that improves overall well-being, strength and social aspects. Designed for all levels and abilities, this program is generally provided by many health plans at no additional cost. SilverSneakers provides access to fitness equipment, group exercise classes, social networking, online education and a sense of community. With more than 16,000 locations nationwide, you can visit any one of our locations at any time.

If you are looking for a free daily workout challenge thaa fits your ability level, they offer a Get Fit Fast Challenge: 7 Days of Quick Workouts. Each day, SilverSneakers LIVE instructor Sims Corbett will guide you through fast, fun video workouts to help you build heart health, strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Not looking for something quite as structured? They offer a YouTube channel full of varying types of exercises, instructors, and timeframes. The longest videos come in at just over thirty minutes, the shortest at around 10 seconds, and most are somewhere in between. They also offer some exercise videos, and other information, on their Facebook page.

BlindAlive

On their “about us” page they state that all of their exercise products have been tested by blind and low vision individuals to ensure that they are completely accessible to members of this community.  It continues with, “there are many barriers that we as blind individuals need to navigate, but I am doing everything in my power to remove those that can keep us from exercising, moving our bodies, and creating the healthy bodies that we all want.”

One of the ways they promote movement for the visually impaired is through their Eyes-Free Fitness® program. All programs are completely free for your downloading pleasure — no strings attached. These programs allow you to stretch, strengthen, condition, and tone your body, all without the benefit of eyesight. All of these programs are thoroughly described with extra supplementary audio and text materials, should they be needed. As of the writing of this blog there are 22 different mp3 based programs to choose from for download. If downloading mp3 files is not for you, they also offer the Eyes-Free Fitness® program on their YouTube channel and provide additional information on their Facebook page.

If the audio-based yoga sounds like something you would like to try, ILA offers a tactile/Braille yoga mat. It is designed to enable people who are blind, vision impaired, or who may face physical challenges due to age or disability, to practice yoga safely and confidently. The mat has tactile raised and depressed features called ”stations” strategically placed to help the challenged yoga student feel where his or her hands, feet, and head should be placed for all 24 basic yoga postures.

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