General Fitness: Getting Started

You've heard it over and over and over again: Work out and you'll feel better, look better, and live longer. All true. But few of us really want to work out. We might want to "dine out" or "sit it out." But "work out?" Not so much. And let's face it, aging—with its occasional aches and pains—is hardly a motivator; vision loss, even less so.

And yet, when you get right down to it, few things make us feel more alive and confident than regular exercise. The benefits are simply too great to allow physical and emotional obstacles to keep you home on the couch.

The Good News About Sports and Exercise

The good news is that if you are visually impaired or blind you can continue an active life style of sports and exercise and have fun! Let's start by looking at what it really means to "work out."

"Working out" is exercising—another word no one likes!—on a regular basis. And exercise, in its purest meaning, is defined simply as moving your body's muscles. Not straining or burning or hurting—just moving. Despite what you may have thought, you don't have to move those muscles for long, exhausting periods of time. Research indicates that you get almost all the benefits of a full exercise program with several short activities throughout the day.

Better still, fitness and medical research supports the idea that the more fun you have when exercising, the more beneficial the program. So if you really hate sit ups—and who doesn't?—then you're probably better off coming up with an alternative you do enjoy instead of slogging on. Your task is to come up with several activities you might enjoy for a few minutes everyday.

"Working out" is beginning to sound better already, isn't it?

The Components of Fitness

What defines a healthy body? Simply, a healthy body is one that does what you want it to do, when you want to do it and with the appropriate amount of effort. Several components have to come together to make those three things happen.

A healthy body has a steady resting heart rate (60 to 80 beats per minute) and does not get breathless going up a flight of 15 to 20 steps. That component is called cardio-respiratory fitness.

If you have a healthy body, you most likely can reach a glass on an upper shelf, pick the newspaper off the porch, or put on socks with little effort. That's flexibility.

You can also carry a bag of groceries, or easily open a car or sliding door. We define that as muscular strength.

And then there is balance. A sense of balance allows you to do all of these things without falling on your face.

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