Exercising with a disability often seems hard or even unrealistic. But what if we told you that there’s a game-changing approach that could make exercising not only possible but profoundly beneficial for people living with a disability? With gentle exercise, it is possible for people living with a disability to improve their mobility, enhance their well-being, take their health and wellness to the next level, and live a more vibrant life.
If you or your loved one is living with a disability, we’re about to walk you through the undeniable importance of gentle exercise for people living with a disability and how it can empower you to reclaim your health and live life to the fullest.
The Centre for Disease Control defines a disability as any condition of the body or mind (impairment) that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to do certain activities (activity limitation) and interact with the world around them (participation restrictions). It could affect vision, movement, communication, hearing, learning, and more.
When we talk about “people with disabilities,” it’s essential to recognise that this term encompasses a broad and diverse group of individuals, each with their unique challenges and requirements. Even if two people share the same type of disability, their experiences and needs can vary significantly. Some disabilities are readily apparent, while others remain hidden or not immediately visible. Let’s take a look at this difference using physical vs. cognitive disabilities.
Physical vs. cognitive disabilities
Physical and cognitive disabilities are two broad categories of disabilities that impact individuals in different ways. Here’s a comparison of physical disabilities and cognitive disabilities.
Physical disabilities primarily affect a person’s physical functioning, including mobility, dexterity, and sensory abilities. Examples of physical disabilities include conditions like paraplegia (loss of use of lower limbs), quadriplegia (loss of use of all limbs), limb amputations, blindness, and deafness. Individuals with physical disabilities often require mobility aids such as wheelchairs or prosthetic devices.
These disabilities can limit independence in daily activities, and accessible infrastructure is crucial for facilitating mobility and access to public spaces. While some physical activities may be challenging, adaptive sports and fitness programs offer opportunities for physical well-being.
Cognitive disabilities primarily impact cognitive functions, such as thinking, memory, learning, and problem-solving abilities. They encompass conditions like intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. Individuals with cognitive disabilities may encounter difficulties in learning, understanding complex concepts, or effective communication.
Independence in daily living can be affected, and many individuals benefit from various forms of support, including accommodations, therapy, and assistive technologies. Social interactions and relationships may also be influenced, and finding suitable employment can be a challenge depending on the severity of the condition. Inclusive and accessible environments and opportunities are essential for promoting the well-being and full participation of individuals with cognitive disabilities.
Common challenges in exercising for people living with a disability
The World Health Organisation estimates that 1.3 billion people – about 16% of the global population – currently experience significant disability. Yet this significant number faces several common challenges when it comes to exercising. A whopping 72% of adults in Australia with a disability do not engage in enough physical activity. This is why gentle exercise for people living with a disability is crucial. Here are some of the most prevalent obstacles that people living with a disability face with exercising:
- Physical Limitations: Many individuals with disabilities have physical limitations that can make certain types of exercise difficult or impossible. This may include reduced mobility, muscle weakness, or paralysis.
- Lack of Accessible Facilities: People living with a disability often have limited access to fitness facilities, gyms, or parks with accessible equipment and environment. Lack of ramps, elevators, and adapted exercise machines can hinder participation.
- Limited Knowledge and Guidance: Finding knowledgeable fitness professionals or trainers who understand the specific needs of individuals with disabilities can be challenging. It’s crucial to have guidance on safe and effective exercises.
- Pain and Discomfort: Some disabilities are associated with chronic pain or discomfort. Engaging in exercise can exacerbate these symptoms, making it difficult to find a suitable workout routine.
- Motivation and Self-Esteem: Living with a disability can affect an individual’s self-esteem and motivation to exercise. They may feel self-conscious or discouraged, making it harder to commit to a regular fitness routine.
- Financial Barriers: Adaptive equipment and specialized exercise programs can be expensive. Financial constraints can limit access to these resources.
- Transportation Issues: Getting to exercise facilities or participating in group classes may be challenging for those with mobility issues. Lack of accessible transportation can be a significant barrier.
- Stigma and Social Isolation: People with disabilities may face social stigma or isolation, making it less likely for them to engage in group exercise or community activities.
- Fear of Injury: There is often a fear of injury or exacerbating existing health conditions when starting a new exercise routine. This fear can be a significant barrier to getting started.
Benefits of gentle exercises for people living with a disability
Gentle exercises offer numerous benefits for people living with disabilities, helping to improve their overall well-being and quality of life. Here are some of the key advantages:
- Improved Mobility and Balance: Gentle exercises can enhance mobility by increasing joint flexibility and muscle strength. This can be especially beneficial for individuals with physical disabilities, helping them perform daily activities with greater ease. It can also enhance their balance reducing the risk of falls and injuries, which can be a significant concern for people with mobility impairments.
- Pain Management: For those experiencing chronic pain, gentle exercises can provide relief. Low-impact movements can reduce discomfort and improve joint function, helping individuals manage pain more effectively.
- Enhanced Cardiovascular Health: Gentle aerobic exercises, such as seated cycling or water aerobics, can improve cardiovascular fitness without putting excessive stress on the body. This is crucial for maintaining heart health.
- Stress Reduction: Exercise is known to reduce stress and anxiety. Engaging in gentle exercises can help alleviate the emotional strain often associated with living with a disability.
- Increased Independence: Improved physical fitness resulting from gentle exercises can boost an individual’s independence. This can be particularly important for those with disabilities, allowing them to perform more daily tasks on their own.
- Weight Management: Regular gentle exercise contributes to weight management, which is essential for overall health. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent complications associated with certain disabilities.
- Enhanced Mood and Mental Health: Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural mood elevators. This can combat depression and improve overall mental well-being.
- Social Interaction: Participating in group gentle exercise classes can provide opportunities for social interaction and support, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Long-Term Health and Management of Chronic Conditions: Engaging in regular gentle exercises promotes long-term health and may help prevent secondary health conditions that can arise from a sedentary lifestyle. It can also help manage some chronic health conditions associated with disabilities, such as diabetes or osteoarthritis, by improving symptoms and reducing complications.
- Improved Sleep: Exercise can enhance sleep quality, which is essential for overall health and well-being. People with disabilities may experience sleep disturbances, making this benefit particularly valuable.
Easy Exercising: gentle exercise for people living with a disability
You’ve seen the benefits of gentle exercise for people living with a disability. And, of course, the challenges people with a disability face with exercising. But thanks to Easy Exercising, disability doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. You can still get your life on track through a wonderful community and gentle exercises that help you improve your mobility without pain and intimidation.
We understand that normal exercise can be challenging and even painful for some people with disabilities, but it does not have to be. It’s important that exercise for people with disabilities is safe, manageable, and enjoyable — and that’s where we come in.
With Easy Exercising’s unique power-assisted machines, you can reach your fitness goals without going through the pain and discomfort of the gym. Our machines do all the work so all you need to do is sit back and relax. But even better than the machines is the presence of an inclusive community that helps you achieve the benefits of exercise without feeling intimidated. We work with physios and chiropractors to determine the exercises you need and our machines then make sure that these exercises are correctly carried out.
So, we’d like to invite you to come along to a FREE trial session at your closest Easy Exercising clinic. This will help you see how the power-assisted machines work, and also help you get a sense of the close-knit community that we foster.