Exercise for the Blind and Low Vision

Exercise for the Blind and Low Vision

28 July 2017

The dog days of summer are approaching, and everyone is gearing up for swimsuit season. Physical exercise is important to your health and well-being, and when it comes to those without sight, exercise can be a much neglected necessity. While it might seem like a daunting task to find ways to exercise when you are blind or have low vision, there are a whole lot of ways to get out and get moving that go beyond walking city streets or using a treadmill.

Depending on your comfort level and range abilities, there are many ways to get your exercise and strength training safely and in public.

Yes, the public part is an important aspect of exercising your mind and wellbeing. Socialization and exploring an independent lifestyle is critical to developing your social interaction skills and gain confidence to explore more adventurous physical activities like mountain climbing! Plus, when you get out and engage with a class or group for an activity, you have the added advantage of having an expert demonstrate poses, stances, and the proper form to ensure that you’re getting the most from your workout.

Exercise Activites for the Blind and Low Vision

Below is a list of five awesome exercise activities that anyone, sighted or low vision, can enjoy every day to meet your fitness goals.

Hiking

When people think of hiking, they often picture men and women traversing mountains and narrowly avoiding falling off of cliffs. More often than not, hiking is done on trails, bike paths, or even through forests and parks. The only things required to get the most out of your hike is a good pair of hiking sneakers that support your spine and hips, and a passion for getting outdoors and breathing in some fresh air.

Hiking and guide dogs go hand-in-hand, so don’t worry that your pooch won’t love hiking just as much as you do. While dogs are great guides on hiking trails, you certainly do not need one to navigate paths. Walking sticks are also a hiker’s best friend, so if you are more comfortable using a stick or a cane to get around, go right ahead and do so.

There are many ways to get out, but you should attempt to learn routes with a friend or helper if possible to ensure that you are aware of difficult terrain and potential hazards. Once you get in the habit of hiking, you’ll want to do it for years to come.

Tandem Bicycling

While it is a popular trope in movies to show tandem bikes in use by cutesy couples, tandem bicycles are a great way for a low-vision person to get on the move and really get a great workout. Tandem bikes, those two-seaters, and four-pedal bikes allow for each person on the bike to use their own momentum to drive the bike forward.
Looking for a real exercise challenge? Try to tandem cycle up hills, through steep streets, or on extended bike paths. Just grab a partner, a tandem bike, hit the road, and get to sweating!

Personal Trainer

If you are looking for a skilled professional to help you with your workouts, head on over to a gym and ask for a consult with a personal trainer. Most gyms offer personal trainer services, and that is for a very good reason. Many people have absolutely no idea what they are doing when they begin working out with new equipment or using new methods for strength training.
It is a personal trainer’s job to tailor exercises and workout routines to individual clients, and many trainers are used to consulting with low-vision gym members. While it’s great to have a gym buddy, it is also great to get your money’s worth while at the gym, and to that end, a personal trainer cannot be beaten!

Swimming

While some people love to hit the gym and interact with the hustle and bustle of gym’s other clientele, many prefer to work one-on-one or exercise in relative peace and quiet. Swimming is one of the best ways to exercise, and it just a half an hour in the pool can give you a full-body workout that will strengthen you from top to bottom.

No other workout burns as many calories and decreases the impact on your joints than swimming does. Water is 800 times denser than air is and you burn way more fat because of the constant increase in resistance.

Swimming requires a lot of practice and patience to get a swimming routine that you can stick to. Swimming should be looked at as a sprint rather than a marathon, and you should not expect to spend 45 solid minutes swimming. Short stretches and rest intervals are key to good swimming technique, so don’t feel down about taking the time to build up your strength and resistance each time you get in the pool.

Yoga

For muscle lengthening, stretching, and increased flexibility, yoga cannot be beat. Yoga is all about learning the poses, and once you work one-on-one with a qualified instructor who can physically position your body as you learn the names of the poses, you’ll be hooked. No one knows what they are doing when they begin practicing yoga poses, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed or out of place.

There’s good reason why yoga is so very popular all around the world. Yoga offers improved respiration, weight loss, circulatory and cardiovascular health, and helps you focus on your breathing rather than your stresses.

Even a once a week yoga class can improve your overall exercise and weight loss performance, and all that you need to begin is a yoga mat and the belief that all of the knowledge that you will need to regularly practice yoga will be learned with time and some assistance from your instructor. We can’t think of a better way to let the stresses of your week go than to breathe in and let it all out.