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Physically Challenged, Physically Active

January 9, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

older adults exercising in a gymPhysical activity plays an important role in your health, quality of life and degree of independence.

For persons with a disability, having adequate endurance, strength and flexibility helps to meet the demands of daily life and promotes higher energy levels, greater confidence and healthy social interactions.

Being physically active also helps you to:

  • Feel good about yourself and life in general.
  • Sleep better.
  • Move around with less effort (e.g., walking or wheeling, getting in and out of your bathtub, car, bed, wheelchair, etc.).
  • Improve your posture, which reduces aches and pains that can occur if you are sedentary a long time.
  • Improve your balance and flexibility, which can help prevent injuries.
  • Improve your blood circulation and reduce the risk of swelling in your feet and legs.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Reduce the risk of certain diseases - including heart disease, hypertension, some forms of cancer and diabetes.

Getting Started

  • See your doctor or health practitioner about your plans to become active and get his or her advice.
  • Make sure you have the right equipment (if needed) to participate in the activity safely. Safety is first and foremost when you're starting out.
  • Recognize your interests, decide on your needs and set realistic goals.
  • Think about how you can be more active in your daily life. Remember: it doesn't have to be strenuous. Gardening, playing with your kids and grandchildren, walking or wheeling at lunch are part of an active lifestyle!
  • Find an activity, fitness program, club or facility that meets your needs and has qualified staff to assist you.
  • Do a proper warm-up before and cool down after your activity. See the tip sheet Warming Up and Cooling Down.
  • Drink water before, during and after your activity.
  • Engage support from family and friends. Have them join you, so they can get more physically active too.
  • Make the commitment and get started!

You may want support from a qualified professional who:

  • Has specific knowledge and recognized certification for working with people with disabilities.
  • Is able to use an adapted heart-rate formula to measure and monitor your heart rate to allow you to work in the proper zone for your age and goals.
  • Knows about any medication you may be taking - and understand and work around any adverse side effects.
  • Can be a motivator, teacher, coach and friend. A lack of motivation and training can lead to your giving up or getting bored. A trainer can keep things interesting and fun.


Canada's Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living


Whistler for the Disabled

Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability 

The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology - Physical activity guidelines

The Steadward Centre 

The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability


  1. Activity & Lifestyles
  2. Aging Well
  3. Pregnancy & Parenting
    1. Pregnancy & Birth
    2. Babies (0-12 months)
    3. Toddlers (12-36 months)
    4. Preschool (3-5 years)
    5. Children (6-11 years)
    6. Teens (12-18 years)
  4. Food & Nutrition

HealthyFamilies BC Tools

Breastfeeding Buddy

Breastfeeding Buddy


Sodium Sense

Sodium Sense


Your Virtual Shopping Tour

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How Much Sugar Are You Drinking?

Sugary Drink Sense