By Holly Bonner
It may come as no surprise that many people put losing weight and getting healthy on the top of their New Year’s resolution lists. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that only about 50% of people with disabilities engage in physical exercise or are active. Many low vision adults attribute barriers like lack of transportation, no motivation, financial concerns, and fear of accessibility for preventing them from exercising. However, it’s important to remember that physical activity is key to preventing chronic health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and strokes.
Low vision doesn’t mean you need to be sedentary. Before you begin any exercise routine it’s recommended that you discuss your exercise plans with both your medical and your eye care professional. Some medical and eye conditions can be affected by bending, lifting, straining, or rapid movement. Your medical team will be able to advise what’s best for you based on your current health condition and may even provide you with recommendations on how to exercise. There are countless activities people with vision loss “can” and “do” participate in. Some may require modifications or special equipment, while others can be done with minimal or no assistance or adaptation.
The best place to start is by researching activities or exercises you have a personal interest in. Examples of physical activities for people with vision loss include walking, running, dancing, swimming, skiing, marital arts, bicycling and weightlifting.
Next, explore your neighborhood to see what kind of gyms or community centers, like a local YMCA, are in your immediate vicinity. Many of these establishments have special rates for disabled patrons. Take the time to talk with a fitness instructor about your needs. Most instructors can work one-on-one with you to create a fitness program that is safe and effective. They can also teach proper form and movement when performing new exercises should you choose to become a member.
Purchasing your own home equipment may also provide you with additional flexibility. Consider how much space you have in your home and what designated area you could store equipment to avoid tripping hazards. Remember, since you would personally own this exercise equipment, you can easily label dials or buttons in braille, large print, or other tactile markings like bump dots to make home fitness even more conducive to your needs.
Regardless of whether you join a gym or purchase your own equipment – the real key is maintaining momentum past the month of January. Finding the motivation for starting and continuing your exercise routine is essential. Consider listening to music, getting an audio book or choosing your favorite podcast to help you stay motivated while working out. These motivators can also help make exercise fun and enjoyable!
Low Vision Specialists of Maryland and Virginia wishes all of our friends and followers a healthy 2020! Share your exercise journey with us! We’d love to hear and share your tips and experiences in a future 20/20 blog posts! Blog@LowVisionMD.org