How You Can Stay Active With A Disability

April 3, 2020
A disabled young woman in a wheelchair playing tennis on a tennis court.

We all know there are numerous benefits to exercise. The best thing about it, however, is that even if you’re living with a disability, that there are still plenty of ways you can keep active. 

Unsure about how you can get your blood pumping? Here’s how you can stay active with a disability.

Set yourself up for exercise

Before you start exercising, it’s paramount that you get medical clearance from your doctor. Start by asking them about what activities would be suitable for your medical condition or mobility issue. If you’re taking medicine, also be sure to find out if it can affect how your body responds to physical activity.

It’s also important that you talk to a trained exercise professional who is professionally trained and capable of discussing the best exercise program for your condition.

According to Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Beth Sheehan, certain exercise physiologists provide tailored physical exercise routines to those looking to fulfill a more active lifestyle.

ESSA accredited professionals can provide consumer-centered care to remove that physical barrier and society’s attitudinal barriers, by encouraging physical activity that is right for the individual person.”

Find an exercise you enjoy

Whether it’s for social, wellness or leisurely reasons, there are a variety of sports and exercises adapted for people with disabilities as well as a number of tailored recreational programs.

Here are some of the ways you can stay active.

Cardiovascular exercises

These are exercises that increase your heart rate and physical stamina. Certain cardiovascular movements can include walking, running, cycling, dancing, tennis, swimming, water aerobics, or “aqua jogging”. Aqua jogging is a particularly popular exercise among those with mobility issues, mainly because it supports the body and reduces the risk of injury or joint and muscle discomfort.

Elderly couple jogging together on a path.
Strength training

These exercises centre around using weights or resistance methods to build muscle and prevent falls. If you have limited mobility in your upper body, your focus will be more on building strength in your legs and core, and vice versa.

Any form of exercise is a great way to strengthen the heart, build strength, improve coordination and mobility, and improve self-esteem. The human body responds to exercise, no matter what its age, so don’t hesitate to get your blood pumping!

To find a sport or exercise that is beneficial and enjoyable, consult with your exercise physiologist or physiotherapist.

Develop the right exercise routine

If you’re new to the exercise game, it may take some time to get used to increased activity levels. That’s why it’s important to develop the right exercise routine with the help of your exercise physiologist or physiotherapist.

Start with an activity you enjoy, and keep your goals manageable. Go at your own pace, and don’t overexert yourself. Accomplishing small goals will help you develop confidence and keep you motivated to reach larger and more difficult goals.

The next step is to make exercise part of your daily life. Plan a schedule so that your exercise or sport can be slotted into a particular time of the day. If you get bored with an exercise or sport, don’t let it demotivate you, there are plenty of sports and exercises you can do!

Stay safe when exercising

The key to seeing results and having fun while you exercise is to stay safe and avoid overexerting yourself. Exercise should never hurt or make you feel lousy. The best ways to stay safe while exercising is to:

Listen to your body

If you begin to experience pain, muscle discomfort, nausea, shortness of breath, or chest pain during an exercise, it’s time to stop what you’re doing. The best way to tell your body is prone to injury is if you are experiencing abnormal symptoms like these.

Seniors training on cross trainer with personal trainer at the gym.

If you continually experience pain after 15 minutes of exercise, try limiting your workouts or exercises. For example, limit your workout to 5 minutes instead of 10 minutes, decrease how often you exercise so your body can recover. 

Have a workout partner / supervision

If you’re just starting out and you’re struggling to stay motivated, one of the smartest moves you can make is to get a workout buddy. Not only do they help squeeze more out of every workout, but they make sure your chances of injury are at a minimum.

Here’s how a workout partner or supervisor can assist you

– Keeps your form on point

The most important thing for people just starting out is to ensure their form is correct. By getting a workout partner or professional supervisor, you will be more confident in what you’re doing right or wrong. Correct form is the easiest way to reduce possible damage to muscle.

– Supports and motivates you

Having someone by your side who motivates and supports you will boost your commitment and provide you with confidence that you will achieve your goals.

– Makes your workouts safer

Having someone spot your exercises makes working out a lot safer – especially if you’re dealing with heavy equipment. Even if you’re just going for a jog around the block, having someone to buddy up with also means you’ll feel safer knowing that if something goes wrong, they’ll be there to assist you.

Invest in a wearable medical alarm

Technology has come a long way in the past decade. Companies like Tunstall now offer a wide range of wearable devices such as the Go Pendant or Find-me Watch so people with limited mobility or disability can live independent lives without the supervision of a carer. By investing in a wearable medical alarm, you can go for a walk or work out knowing that someone will always be there to assist in the case of an emergency. As an NDIS registered provider, Tunstall can offer these products through NDIS funding.

Are you looking to stay active with a disability? Tunstall offers a wide range of services and products which are there to help people living with disability achieve their full potential. Get in touch today and find out how we can help you