Exercise for People Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision
Use an instructor to guide
Everyone, including people with visual impairments, can benefit from some form of exercise.
Before you begin any exercise routine, however, it's recommended that you discuss your exercise plans with your medical doctor and your eye doctor, since some medical and eye conditions can be affected by bending, lifting, straining, or rapid movement.
Discuss your needs with a fitness instructor at a local gym, health club, or community center. Most instructors can work one-on-one with you to create a fitness program that is safe and effective. They can also teach proper form and movement when performing new exercises.
Exercise and Exercise Equipment
Yoga for static stretching
- Exercise equipment with dials requiring specific settings or defining specific boundaries can be marked with contrasting tape, raised dots, or large print. See Labeling and Marking for more information.
- Low impact aerobics or exercise equipment, such as a treadmill or stationary bike, can help with cardiovascular workouts.
- For muscle definition, try using hand weights, rubber bands, resistance equipment, and body balls.
- Think about balance and flexibility. There are a number of simple exercises that you can use to improve both.
- Try static stretching, such as tai chi or yoga, to enhance muscle tone and enhance body awareness and movement in space.
- Think about new ways to adapt an activity. Walk with a friend, use a track for running instead of running on the road, or try cross-country skiing instead of downhill skiing.
A Judo throw and drop
- Martial arts should be introduced by, and learned with, a qualified instructor. Work with an instructor who can work one-on-one with you to guide you through movements and provide repetition.
- Consider trying a form of martial arts that focuses on movement and body awareness. Martial arts that use target and object recognition may be more difficult for a beginner. Many people have found Judo to be a satisfying and effective sport.
- Focus on the environment and developing your senses of hearing and touch, which can help you become more aware of your body position in space and the location of other people around you.
- The Blind Judo Foundation provides professional development activities, information, and educational resources.
- See the United States Association of Blind Athletes video on adapting Judo for an athlete who is blind or visually impaired.
- Read about Sensei Devin Fernandez, founder of Third Eye Insight, a fitness program of martial arts, yoga, and mediation for people who are visually impaired and blind.
- National Braille Press has published Safe Without Sight, a self-defense home study course for persons with vision impairments.
- See Sports Groups and Recreation, Sports, & Leisure Products for tips, answers to frequently-asked questions, and resources for sports and leisure equipment and activities.
- Physical Education and Sports for People with Visual Impairments and Deafblindness by Lauren Lieberman, Paul E. Ponchillia, and Susan V. Ponchillia, Ed.D., provides practical information on techniques for adapting sports and other physical activities
- Tuesday Night Tandems: An Opportunity for Fun and Fitness
Bonnie O'Day and husband Bob Hartt, both visually impaired, discuss starting a tandem bike club in our nation's capital.
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