We’ve said it over and over: Thanks to advances in treatment and technology, people with disabilities are living longer. As a result, more people with disabilities are moving into “senior-hood” and may be experiencing age-related conditions, such as arthritis or vision loss, as well as secondary conditions specific to their disabilities.We are joining the National Institute on Aging’s Go4Life program in encouraging people aging with and into disability to get active. By incorporating exercise and physical activity into your daily routine, you may be able to stay healthy and #Fit4Function as you age.
You may be wondering if it’s safe to exercise with a disability. The answer is YES! With the right information, training, or equipment, you can safely incorporate exercise into your life. According to the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Healthy Aging with Physical Disabilities, it can be done safely and, generally, does not make symptoms of long-term disabilities (such as spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis) any worse. Here are some resources from the NIDILRR community to help you add more physical activity to your day:
- Get the facts: The RRTC on Healthy Aging with Physical Disabilities has a great collection of factsheets and plain language research summaries to help you learn about staying healthy through the years.
- Learn from your peers: The RRTC on Secondary Conditions in Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) (now complete) at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital has a YouTube Channel of videos featuring people with SCI demonstrating a range of activities including exercises using Therabands and other equipment.
- Get together with friends: The RRTC on Psychiatric Disability and Co-Occurring Medical Conditions developed a peer-led program to help people incorporate exercise and better nutrition in their daily lives. The whole curriculum, including videos, is available free online.
- Bring the community together: Host an inclusive activity fair, using this guide from the RRTC on Community Integration and Participation of Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities. (They even hosted a webinar on how to do it!)
- Go virtual: Learn how the GoWoman project at Baylor is using Second Life to help women with disabilities reach their wellness goals.
- Don’t let arthritis stop you: The Center for Enhancing Activity and Participation Among Persons with Arthritis offers videos, tools, and tips for exercising and increasing activity with arthritis. Make sure to check out their active living podcast series, too!
- Find accessible facilities: If you prefer to go to a gym or community center, make sure it can meet your needs. The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Interactive Exercise Technologies and Exercise Physiology has a searchable database of fitness and activity centers you can use to find a facility that is accessible.
- Not sure if yours is? Talk to the manager and introduce him or her to the AIMFREE evaluation tool they can use to see how best to meet the needs of their clients with disabilities. They might also be interested in know about standards for accessibility in exercise equipment currently under development.
- Exercise on your own with the right equipment: AbleData has more than 5,000 assistive devices listed for recreation and activity and check out their factsheet on How Assistive Technology Can Help You at Play (PDF).
We also highly recommend the following resources to help you find the right activity to stay #Fit4Function:
- The National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD) is a go-to resource for sports, fitness, and recreation. Browse through their database of activities, read the articles, and check out their two current campaigns: How I Walk, the Campaign to Rebrand Walking, and DocTalk, Pledge to Talk to Your Doctor About Physical Activity.
- Bonus: Physicians can access NCHPAD’s Physicians Toolkit to connect patients with resources and opportunities to be physically active.
- Check out the Inclusive Fitness Coalition and learn how to become a certified inclusive fitness instructor.
- Join organizations and agencies to Commit to Inclusion in physical activity, wellness, and sport.
These are just a few examples of the great resources out there to help you get fit and stay healthy.
Are you interested in research fitness, aging, and disability? Browse through our collection:
- NIDILRR-funded research in aging and recreation, fitness, wellness, activity, sports, and exercise.
- Research from other sources (including international research)
Many of these articles and reports are available through our Document Delivery service. Give us a call or send us an email to learn more!