At present, 61 million American adults are living with a disability, according to the CDC. Nearly 50% of these individuals do not exercise enough, while approximately 38.2% qualify as obese. While living with limited mobility may restrict the type of exercise someone can enjoy, it doesn’t typically exclude exercise altogether. Engaging in regular exercise can, in fact, be of great benefit to a person with a disability, as it not only helps build a stronger body but a more positive and resilient mind as well. Fitness professionals can play an important role in helping the disabled population remain healthy by encouraging them to engage in regular physical activity.
Different exercises serve different purposes
As a fitness professional, it is essential to know what types of exercise can be suggested for individuals with limited mobility. Despite the nature of their physical limitations, individuals with mobility concerns should try to incorporate three varying types of exercise into their fitness regimes. Cardio exercises that increase the heart rate and boost endurance are very important. While not all your clients will be able to engage in running, cycling and dancing, many people with even severe mobility concerns find great benefit from water-bound cardio exercises. Strength-training and flexibility exercises also need to be encouraged. While the former aids in building bone mass, preventing trips and falls, and improving balance, the latter reduces the risk of injury while also enhancing range of motion and reducing pain.
Harness the power of smart technology
Technology is being utilized in countless ways to make everyday life more accessible to individuals with disabilities. While cameras and sensors are keeping people safe in their homes, voice assistants make it possible to control a host of smart gadgets from a localized hub. The market is also inundated with a range of gadgets that are specifically aimed at fitness enthusiasts. Waterproof headphones are fast becoming a hot favorite among individuals who choose the pool as their exercise arena, while activity trackers such as those offered by Garmin and Fitbit help keep tracks of steps, heart rate, calories burned, and even sleep patterns. Fitness professionals can also benefit from investing in innovative technologies such as smart body analysers that will allow them to not only provide a body weight and fat composition but measure heart rate and the health level of your work or living environment as well.
Reiterate that slow and steady wins the race
Individuals with disabilities may require some additional motivation when it comes to starting an exercise routine. Apart from highlighting the physical and mental benefits of engaging in regular exercise, also remember to reiterate the importance of starting out slow and gradually increasing their activity level. It is recommended to start with a single, enjoyable activity and a set of small, achievable goals. Once one activity has been mastered, another can be added to the regular exercise routine. Although it is important not to push too hard when exercising, it is beneficial to make exercise part of a daily routine. As it typically takes four weeks for a new activity to be transformed into a habit, it is important to persevere despite some days being substantially harder than others.
Exercise is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle. For individuals living with a disability, engaging in regular activity can improve the quality of life substantially.