Exercise. Everyone needs it. Not everyone loves it, at least not at first. And for people with disabilities, getting enough exercise can be a goal fraught with unique challenges. Gym equipment, for example, is covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ACA), but limited space means that the required machinery often gets grabbed quickly, leaving you wasting time waiting for that single piece of equipment to open up for use.
So what are some ways in which a person with a disability can get into an exercise habit? And maybe get some sunshine and fresh air in the process. Here are some simple tips for anyone with a disability who’s looking to begin getting back in shape.
Exercise is easy if you want it to be. There’s no need to go overboard when beginning a health program. Start small. Take a twenty minute walk every day, then add a couple minutes to it every week. If your disability prevents a twenty minute walk, take a ten minute walk. Or even a five minute walk. Start where you can, and work your way up.
A daily walk can help your heart, your brain, and many other aspects of your life. Few things have a better general effect on a person’s life. And even if your disability prevents you from taking walks, you can still enjoy similar activities—taking an outside stroll in a wheelchair, for example, will get you some good fresh air and can provide good strength training for your arms.
Make a Routine
The people who most successfully get regular exercise are the ones who sneak it into their routines in a such way that they barely even realize they’re doing it. Once you become habitualized to that nightly post-work walk, for instance, you’ll barely notice it. It won’t feel like exercise, it’ll just be what you do.
Many people with disabilities have a good appreciation for routine. Routine is a great way to take control of your life. If you’re the sort of person who likes to chart daily tasks, set goals, and observe long-term changes, in your daily life, good news! Those habits transfer perfectly to the healthy life. Set an exercise goal, make a daily or weekly checklist to fill out, and measure the ways in which you improve over time.
When putting your routine together, remember to plan ahead to ensure your path will be accessible. Research your activities and location ahead of time. The best routine is a researched routine.
Don’t Get Discouraged When You Fail
Failure is a key component of success. Think long term. Big accomplishments don’t come easy. Keep going.
If you miss a few days of exercise, if you don’t meet your monthly weight-loss goal, or if you just have a bunch of bad days in a row, there’s no need to throw in the towel. Sometimes a disability can flair up and prevent you from your new, healthy lifestyle. It happens. Don’t get depressed. Just get back into things when you can. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of yourself, even if that means breaking a good habit every now and then.