Headed to the Gym

Physical activity for people with disabilities is crucial. If we don’t participate in the proper amount of physical activity, our physical impairments could get worse. For me, the proper amount of physical activity is physical therapy twice a week and getting out of my chair as much as I can. I know this is incredibly important, however, I get distracted. I’ll make plans with friends ex: go shopping and it creates a distraction. Obviously, I can’t always be exercising or stretching; I would not have a social life or go to work, but I have to balance physical exercise with the demands of life.

National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability state:

“More recently, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides science-based guidance to help individuals with disabilities aged 6 and older improve their health through appropriate physical activity. These benefits are even more important if you have a disability, since people with disabilities have a tendency to live less active lifestyles”.

This is a challenge that everybody deals with. How much do I work out? What exercise classes are best? We all struggle with balance. How many hours of therapy give my child a life and also maximizes independence? It’s a hard question that I don’t have the answer to.

 However, some people commit their life’s work to physical fitness. The community of Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region would think of our wonderful physical therapists as people who dedicate their lives to physical fitness and we do appreciate them. However, some people with disabilities decide to shatter stereotypes in the world of physical fitness. Craig Koonce, a power lifter who has Cerebral Palsy does that every day. He defies the odds in a gym. Koonce goes to the gym everyday to prepare for weight lifting competitions. He won state in Pennsylvania  in 2010 for power lifting and he went on to nationals.  He dreams of starting a center that takes holistic approaches for both disabled and able-bodied individuals. Check out his story here.

We can’t all be like Craig. I could never spend that many hours in a gym. That amount of physical activity does not appeal to me. Personally, I set aside certain parts of the day to have my personal care attendants get me out of my chair. It can be as simple as laying on the couch and watching my favorite TV show or after work, I usually stand with an attendant for a good ten minutes. USA Today states, “If you are in a negative-thinking cycle for more than 10 minutes, stop thinking and start moving. Move your body every hour; sitting saps motivation”. The magazine also says, building incentives and giving yourself a rest day is a good way to keep working out.

You can set your own regime and choose your own activities but it’s important to remember that physical activity is crucial when you have a disability. Plus, the holidays are practically here…if you exercise, you won’t feel as bad when you eat all those holiday goodies!

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