4 Tips for Staying Active with a Disability

Physical disabilities come in many forms, but regardless of whether you have a mobility issues, visual impairment or some other form of disability, it is crucial to stay active.

Regular exercise will strengthen your heart, help improve your condition, build strong bones, relieve stress and help you feel good about yourself. Here are four tips to help you stay active.

1. Find an Activity You Love and Can Enjoy

One of the key most important factors in staying active – whether you have a disability or not – is to find an activity that you love and can enjoy.

Regular exercise will boost your mood and your mental health while helping prevent complications that may arise from your disability. But it’s important to choose an activity that you actually enjoy and one that you can perform without issue on a regular basis.

Keep in mind that staying active doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to follow conventional “workouts.” If you rely on Social Security disability benefits and cannot afford a gym membership, there are other options. Swimming and walking may be a better option for you.  If you’re confined to a wheelchair, you may find that strength training improves your mobility and strength.

2. Get the Right Amount of Cardiovascular and Strengthening Exercise

Finding an activity that you enjoy is just one piece of the puzzle. The other piece is making sure that you get enough of it.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends:

  • 2-1/2 hours of moderate aerobic activity, or about 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week
  • Strength training exercises at least 2 days a week

It’s important to find activities that work with your disability. For strength training workouts, aim to work muscles that you use less often.

3. Set Goals and be Consistent

The best way to measure progress is to set goals and track your results. Set realistic exercise goals for yourself. Write down the activities or exercises you want to do, where you want to do them, for how long and when.

Keep track of your progress, and when you meet your goals, set new ones. Progress tracking can help you stay motivated.

Don’t get discouraged if it takes you longer than expected to reach your goals. Consistency and determination will help you reach the finish line.

Make note of any barriers or challenges that may be limiting your progress. Brainstorm with your doctor or physical therapist to find ways to overcome these challenges.

4. Join a Fitness Class

If you need to be held accountable to stay motivated and consistent, consider joining a fitness class. Communities and gyms offer a wide range of classes for all experience and ability levels. Many areas offer classes specifically for those with disabilities.

It doesn’t matter whether you join a fitness class, workout at home, walk around the neighborhood or join a local gym. What’s most important is that you stay active and keep moving. An active lifestyle will prevent complications in the future and help you enjoy a better quality of life.

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