Being active with a health condition or disability

Physical activity is not only good for your physical health, but also has a bunch of other positive spin-offs. This includes helping you cope with life’s daily demands, giving you extra energy, enjoying an active lifestyle, and connecting with others in the community.

Most people with disabilities are capable of doing physical activity on a regular basis with support from their health-care provider, and should aim to achieve the recommended daily activity levels. Studies show that physical activity can generally be done safely when the activities are specifically tailored to an individual’s abilities.

You should talk with your doctor about being active if you have a chronic health condition like arthritis, COPD, diabetes or heart disease. Your condition may limit your ability to be active in some way, and you may need to work with your doctor to come up with a physical activity plan that matches your abilities.

Evidence shows that regular physical activity provides important health benefits for people with disabilities, such as:

  • stroke survivors;
  • people with spinal cord injury;
  • multiple sclerosis;
  • Parkinson’s disease;
  • muscular dystrophy;
  • cerebral palsy;
  • traumatic brain injury;
  • limb amputations;
  • mental illness;
  • intellectual disability; and
  • dementia.

The benefits include improved cardiovascular and muscle fitness, improved mental health, and better ability to do tasks of daily life.

Try to do as much as you can if your condition stops you from meeting the recommended daily activity levels. What’s important is that you avoid being inactive. Even just 60 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity is good for you.

What to consider when starting to get active

You might be unsure about becoming active or boosting your level of physical activity because you’re afraid of getting hurt. The good news is that moderate-intensity aerobic activity is generally safe for most people, like brisk walking.

Start slowly and gradually increase your level of activity.

Remember to talk to your GP or a health professional before you start any new activity to see if it is right for you.

About Eve Williams

Eve Williams is the Content Developer and Social Media Administration for Eldernet. She is currently studying towards her Masters at the University of Canterbury. She has a passion for learning new things.