Ways You Can Exercise If you are Blind or Visually Impaired

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We are continuing our theme of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.

Even though there may be a few added challenges for people who are visually impaired to get exercise, we need to make it a part of our daily lives. This can be done with the right information, creativity and motivation. VisionAware Peer Advisors share their routines and ideas in hopes of inspiring others to pursue greater levels of physical activity and achieve the associated health benefits. Let’s make fitness a priority, together.

Audrey Demmitt, Georgia

Audrey and dog guide hiking in Yosemite

"I like to mix things up and try new things to avoid boredom. I enjoy solitary activities like yoga, walking with my guide dog and getting on my elliptical machine while listening to a good book. But my favorite activities are outdoor sports like hiking and tandem biking when I can spend time with family and friends."

Mary Hiland, Ohio

"I have found the simplest and least expensive way to exercise, aside from walking of course, is to use a jogging trampoline. There is no motor to roar, no belt to come off, and it takes up less space than a tread mill. You can make it as aerobic as you like. And, if you get one from a second hand store, like 'Play It Again Sports,' it’s not nearly as expensive as any other piece of equipment. There is a bar to hold, so jumping on it is safe. You may also want to read about my tandem biking adventures."

Mary Hiland wearing her biking clothes standing in front of her tandem bike and smiling at the camera

Deanna Noriega, Missouri

"It is my flexibility that adds grace and ease to my movements and makes it possible for me to return on June 1st to train with my ninth guide dog. When you don’t know what your foot will land on in the next step, quick reflexes and flexibility help you keep from tripping or falling. Shortly after I lost all light perception at age 8, my mother put me in ballet classes because, she explained to the teacher, now that I was blind and would be walking into things, tripping etc., she wanted me to do it gracefully! I perform at least half an hour of stretches and other exercises each evening before bed. I keep my weight down and at 66, am still able to move freely and quickly, carry lots of heavy technology and do all of things I want to do."

Maribel Steel, Melbourne, Australia

"I have several suggestions to share:

  1. We use a tandem bike. It's not as easy as one might think, working as a team, being alert to traffic, on the edge of my seat at the ready to follow my partner's instructions. Sitting on the back of a tandem bike, I truly feel engaged with nature. This shared form of exercise can be as gentle or as hard as the pace we both want to set depending on our energy levels. One thing on which we insist is a reconnoiter to a café for that well deserved cup of hot coffee at the end of our ride.
  2. One of my favorite places to walk is around the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. A comfortable gravel track circles the lush gardens and I love being caught up with other Melbournians who like to walk or jog around ‘The Tan’ too. As I use a white cane, I prefer to go with a friend to catch up on news while we both get some brisk exercise.
  3. There is nothing as wonderful as feeling swept away with my favorite music that inspires me to jive, swing and dance to music from my teen years. Call me old fashioned, but the rhythms of the 70s is still some of the best music you can play to encourage enjoyment of doing housework!
  4. Getting out in the garden is not always about smelling the roses. There are many jobs that can get the heart pumping. There is something very satisfying when at the end of my gardening day, the flower beds have been cleared of weeds, the compost has been turned, the large garden pots have been moved into different sunny places and I take off my gloves – exhausted in a good way.
Maribel standing next to large sunflower

Empish Thomas, Georgia

"I have exercise equipment in my home and use that on a regular basis. I also use a talking pedometer to measure steps, miles and calories burned. Recently I have hired a personal trainer to come to my home for help with workouts. Also, there is a Blind Yoga series created by Marty Klein that I recommend."

Empish on a home treadmill

Leann Gibson, Alberta, Canada

"I am new to vision loss. I have done all sorts of different exercise over the years. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to exercise so many hours a week. I stopped that way of thinking completely. Since my vision loss I have learned to focus on the activities that bring me joy and not the ones I have difficulty doing. For me, being outside is a real struggle. The light and flashing is too much."

Leann's Routine

"My first step is to follow a series of stretching techniques to avoid injury and to warm up.

Then I choose between following a few routines on YouTube and creating my own. With my low vision I need a much larger screen, so I use my TV instead of my computer. This way I can see the instruction well enough to follow along. With my light sensitivity I can also adjust brightness on the screen, the overhead lighting and I wear sunglasses. It is impossible to get bored, the variety is endless. I choose ones that are ten minutes long and go with the flow. Sometimes I do three or four videos, depending on how I am feeling.

My favorite activity is dancing. I put on some music and get moving. I have a bad ankle so I adapt to my body. I dance with minimal foot movements or I sit in a chair. It's amazing how much of a workout you can get sitting in a chair. Dancing and exercise is such a mood elevator. Since my vision loss, this is critical for me. I need to be able to bring myself up out of the trenches and feel good about myself."

Maxwell Ivey, Texas

"I think with exercise, people need to think more about small improvements. It’s easier to get moving if you aren't thinking you have 30 minutes or an hour to work out before you can quit. I say start with putting on your shoes and taking a few steps or walking one block or climbing one flight of stairs. I have had better results myself lately setting myself a goal of 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes."

Health and Fitness Apps

Many apps are emerging to help track and motivate healthy eating and fitness goals. They are not all fully accessible yet, but some may be useful depending on your level of vision. Many are free and there is no risk in checking them out in the app store.

Chelsea Stark, Utah

"Here are a few free fitness apps that my friends and I like:

  1. MyFitnessPal by My FitnessPal.com. Reach your weight loss goals with MyFitnessPal. I think it is the best calorie counter on the iPhone. Set a daily calorie goal and record your daily food and exercise to make sure you stay on track.
  2. Fitbit by Fitbit, Inc. Live a healthier, more active life with Fitbit, a top app for tracking all-day activity, workouts and health.
  3. Pact By GymPact. Earn cash for exercise, healthy living, and eating right. Pact is an effective way to keep your fitness and weight loss resolutions in 2015! Earn cash for staying active, paid by members who don’t. Stick with it, and GymPact will motivate you to hit your health goals week-to-week!
  4. RunKeeper By FitnessKeeper, Inc.. It includes GPS, running, walk, cycling, workout and weight tracker. RunKeeper is a simple way to improve fitness, whether you’re just deciding to get off the couch for a 5k, biking every day or deep into marathon training."

More Information on Fitness

Read the first post in this fitness series:Make physical activity a way of life

For more reviews on fitness apps go to AFB AccessWorld "A Review of Pocket Yoga, CARROT Fit, CARROT Hunger, iOS Fitness Apps".

Recreation and fitness section on VisionAware

Sign up with a personal trainer

Give Us Feedback

What are your favorite forms of exercise? In what ways do you adapt your fitness routines? Are there some activities mentioned here that you would be willing to try? Make physical activity a daily activity!

There are currently 4 comments

Re: Ways You Can Exercise If you are Blind or Visually Impaired

Wow - this is a great post - so cool to have all these various viewanks Audrey for co-ordinating it. I love Mary's jogging trampoline with safety rail, will look into that. Leanne reminded me of aerobics being fun too (in private so no one sees you accidentally collide into furniture!)

Re: Ways You Can Exercise If you are Blind or Visually Impaired

For the past few months, I have had the privilege of working with BlindAlive, which produces a variety of described audio workouts, for blind and visually impaired individuals. You can learn more by visiting www.BlindAlive.com .

Re: Ways You Can Exercise If you are Blind or Visually Impaired

Thanks lisasali for sharing that tip. I have checked them out and I think these wrokouts are a great option!

Re: Ways You Can Exercise If you are Blind or Visually Impaired

Help your blind friend exercise its brain with Imhotep Labyrinth Offers Equal Playing Field for the Blind and Seeing

There are approximately 285 million people worldwide who are blind and severely visually impaired; but despite the number, full integration into society remains to be seen. For instance, existing games for the blind are very limited; and if there are, they’re usually those that have been originally created for the seeing and then revised to cater to the blind as well. The Imhotep Labyrinth is a revolutionary table top game for the blind, which creates an equal playing field between those who can see and cannot see.

Unique Game Presentation

The Imhotep Labyrinth is, according to the President Arnt Holte of the World Blind Union, reminiscent of a game of chess. However, this game allows both the blind and seeing players to assess the situation easily. Those who can see will use their eyes while those who cannot will use their hands.

The game has a playing field of depressions with 64 game stones, 36 play cards and 4 pawns that stand on top of the game stones. The rules of the game are in Braille and normal print, and will only require about 10 minutes for full comprehension.

Unlike any other table top game for the blind, the Imhotep Labyrinth comes in three levels. The first level is, of course, for beginner’s and comes with the purpose of getting used to the game. After that, you can move up to the second level and then finally, on to the most complicated round. Two to four people can play the game so it’s great to entertain a crowd.

Sense of Equality

There’s currently no other game out there that offers as much level of inclusivity as the Imhotep Labyrinth. A 6-year old blind person and 90-year old seeing person can have the same playing field, with only wisdom and experience as the probable advantage of the older player.

Improved Social Skills

The Imhotep Labyrinth has a social skill advantage. Since it creates an equal playing field, interaction becomes unguarded and healthy competition erupts. Following a good game, conversations continue with possible focus on what a play should or should not have done to improve the game next time.

A definite must-have, the Imhotep Labyrinth break the boundaries between the blind and the seeing. The world is poised to become a whole lot better with this table top game for the blind around!
Visit the official for more info -> https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1485841814/a-visionary-game-not-just-for-the-blind-178000-nee

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