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Physically Challenged, Physically Active

January 9, 2013 by HealthyFamilies BC

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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

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Comments (1)

Travis Barker, MPA GCPM

Posted on Sunday January 19, 2014 a 5:14pm

Special Olympics BC-Vancouver recognizes the importance of supporting active and regular exercise routines for everyone. Whether you have a disability or not exercise is crucial to your health, quality of life, and emotional well being.

For someone with an intellectual disability ongoing participation in a physical sport or activity can also offer social opportunities to connect with others and build relationships in their communities.

With over 30 programs and 626 classes (1,565 hours of activities) for the 2013-14 season's Special Olympics athletes, including over 150 committed and dedicated volunteers, and 23 different program locations throughout the city of Vancouver there is an activity for everyone.

Athlete goals are supported by many dedicated volunteers, their families, medical professionals, community organizations, and governments throughout the world.

With one of the largest volunteer and professional networks available each Special Olympics Athlete is supported in areas such as diet & nutrition, education and community referrals, recognizing the importance of getting sufficient sleep, maintaining regular medical checkups, developing routines and exercise schedules, and learning how exercising with a partner helps to maintain motivation and interest.

As part of your or a loved one with an intellectual disability New Year resolution consider enrolling in a program at Special Olympics. There is a program available for each age, ability, and preference level. Whether you are looking to learn how to exercise, improve your health, learn how to compete, or are ready to begin actively competing there is a program available to support your goals.

We look forward to working together with you to help you or your loved one with a intellectual disability reach their goals!

Travis Barker, MPA GCPM


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