As we honor “Healthy Aging Month,” we’re reminded that aging is an opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves, from life-changing moments like becoming a grandparent, heading back to school or even routine lifestyle changes such as beginning a new exercise program. Just because you’re getting older, it doesn’t mean you should miss out on these exciting opportunities.
Vision impairment or loss doesn’t have to mean an end to physical activity. Before you start a new exercise routine, however, it’s important to follow several guidelines, provided by VisionAware, to keep exercise safe and fun.
- Do not begin any type of exercise without consulting your physician. Depending on your medical history or any medications you may take, conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, high or low blood pressure, heart disease, COPD, and many others must be considered when planning an exercise program.
- Do not exercise alone, especially when beginning a program. Using new equipment, learning new movements or getting used to an unfamiliar environment takes help. A sighted fitness professional or exercise partner ensures safety while providing motivation and boosting confidence.
- Begin slowly and choose an activity you’ll enjoy. Becoming discouraged is easy if your muscles are sore and you’re not having any fun!
- If it hurts, STOP! Exercise and movement should not be painful. You might experience symptoms such as mild to moderate fatigue, muscle or joint awareness, or slight breathlessness, but you should NOT feel any pain beyond what you may experience on a daily basis.
- Listen to what your body is telling you. If you are sore or fatigued, take a day off. If a certain movement causes discomfort or pain, find a substitute. Conversely, if you can’t get out of a chair without help or climb a flight of stairs without becoming winded, it is time to embrace a more active lifestyle.
- Wear appropriate clothing and footwear. Comfort enhances motivation.
- Congratulate yourself for anything active you choose to do. Doing something is always better than doing nothing.
- Most importantly, have fun!
Discuss your fitness needs with an instructor at a gym, health club or community center. Most instructors can work with you to design a fitness routine that is safe and effective. They can also teach proper form and movement as you begin a new exercise regimen.
The National Center on Physical Activity with a Disability website,http://www.nchpad.org, features a database of personal trainers with years of experience working with individuals with disabilities.
For more information on activities that are healthy, safe and fun, go to https://go4life.nia.nih.gov to read about exercises for people with low vision.