What’s the best way to get moving?
After a year inside, everyone is adjusting back to moving more, and taking care of our bodies in the way that we need. Some of those who find movement harder, like seniors and the visually impaired, may not know the best ways to start to work out. Ed Plumacher of the Lighthouse Guild, an organization dedicated to assisting people with vision loss and impairment, offers what he thinks are the most important exercise tips for vision-impaired seniors, and the people that care for them, to know.
1. Be Prepared: Talk to your doctor about movement that might be right for you, and remember to stretch before and after you exercise. You don’t want to throw yourself into exercise, and possibly end up hurting your body. “We all know someone who’s taken it too far at the gym,” Plumacher says, “so be sure to properly prepare yourself for whatever exercise you’re doing. Don’t just start picking up dumbbells.”
2. Know Your Body: Hand in hand with being prepared, is knowing your limits, Plumacher says. Not all types of exercise work for everyone, but there is a kind of exercise for everyone to enjoy. “Even if it’s just standing up and sitting down, or going for a long walk, any movement is good movement” Plumacher explains. “Experts are now saying it only takes two days a week of exercise to see a difference in your physical health.” Making exercise a routine, and knowing what you can do, and what movement you’re working towards achieving, will help you know your body inside and out.
3. Get Engaged With Others to make your exercise even more impactful: Whether it’s with your friends, children, or grandchildren, the best part of exercise is that it can be a social experience, which is good for your body and good for your brain. Check out chair yoga classes, or tandem bicycling. “After an isolating year, the opportunity to get involved with other vision impaired seniors and your wider community is important for your mental health.” Plumacher explains “New York has so many classes and groups that seniors can access to meet people, and take care of themselves.” Taking care of yourself means taking care of your whole self, mind and body.
4. Start Slow But, However You Can, Start! The final tip is the most important. Exercise can be intimidating for seniors, and the visually impaired, but starting is the first and most important step. Once you’ve created a routine, found movement you like and feels good for your body, and found other people who can keep you encouraged and uplifted throughout your movement, you’ll find that exercise isn’t as scary as it can seem. For caregivers, encouragement and being an active participant in the movement can make exercise and movement less of a stressor, and a more positive experience for both you, and the senior in your life.