Approximately 14 million Americans have a self-reported visual impairment that affects their lifestyle and overall well-being. According to the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, individuals who are impaired have lower levels of physical fitness than their sighted companion does. In fact, following daily activities also tend to demand more energy, causing an increase in fatigue. The good news is that visual impairments do not affect the benefits they receive from physical activity.

As experts, we all know the importance of exercise in keeping our bodies healthy and strong. However, starting a physical routine can be a difficult process, especially with a visual disability such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Cataracts
  • Circulatory issues
  • Macular degeneration
  • Injury to the head or eyes

Such difficulties can be congenital or increase with age. As a result, safety is always a high concern when working with this population. Here are several techniques physical trainers can follow for proper fitness and use of equipment for clients with visual impairments.

Here are several techniques physical trainers can follow for proper fitness and use of equipment for clients with visual impairments.

Ideal fitness location for those with visual impairment

As you begin each session, you will want to make sure your client has an idea of the area they will be in. if you are going to exercise outdoors, make sure to discuss where they are, what to stay cautious of, and if they are walking on a grassy field or cement. If you plan to stay indoors, mention the amount of human traffic and the size of the space. The more they know about their environment, the more confident and secure that they will feel about their session.

Choose the right equipment

According to an article in the Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, one of the major barriers for individuals with vision loss is minimal access to exercise equipment. Today, a majority of exercise equipment use a flat control interface with no marking or speech output. Because of the design, it will become difficult to use them safely and independently. To accommodate individuals with varying levels of visual impairment, trainers must choose tools that provide

  • Pictorials/braille instructions
  • Tactual perimeter
  • Adaptations to equipment
  • Numbering stations

Plenty of aerobic equipment like electric bikes comes with e-switches, including treadmills and step-masters. These tools provide on-off switches by marking them with paint, large print, or Braille. That way, your client can track their time with vibrating timers.

Promote independence through clear instructions

When planning an exercise program for your client, make sure that you incorporate a strategy to help them transition to independent fitness. While it is great to provide available support and guidance, they will also benefit from the ability to exercise without any help. For example, yoga can be initially taught by placing your client’s body in the proper positions. Through memory, your client will learn the various poses based on how their body feels and remembers the position.

Just like working with any other community, remember to gain a better understanding of their needs and disabilities before you start your program. Having the proper knowledge will help you tailor the exercise routine based on your client’s needs. Not only will this improve their health, but also your development as a trainer.

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Sally Perkins

Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.


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