Hi, friends. Did you know that people with a deficiency in one of the five senses sometimes exhibit a higher acuteness with their other senses? Our bodies are hard-wired for survival, and generally, adaptation and compensation are necessary for survival. Exercise is healthy and beneficial for anyone, but exercise is a crucial component to adaptation/compensation in surviving life with physical limitations.
All kinds of people could be considered “physically limited.” Right off, I imagine people with disabilities like mine and older people with back problems and/or other general pains. Others may acquire a serious injury that is relatively temporary like a broken bone; others may have had an injury whose pain resurges sometimes (if you’ve ever hurt your knee, you will still know if it’s going to rain years later).
Exercise is important for the physically limited for a few reasons:
- If you are physically limited enough to need a walking device (cane, walker, wheelchair), your muscles likely aren’t getting the use that nature intended. The statement “if you don’t use it, you lose it” applies here. If you allow your muscles to atrophy, a hard life becomes much harder; if you work them out, a hard life gets a little easier. Imagine a person in a wheelchair simply transferring from chair to toilet. How much harder or easier is that process with withered away muscles vs. strong ones? Yeah, apply that idea to literally everything I ever do–driving, taking a shower, walking up stairs, opening a heavy door, rolling around the mall, getting up if I fall down, etc.
- If you experience general pain or get injured, exercise can help relieve the current pain and prevent future pain. A lot of people hurt themselves because they aren’t strong enough to do things correctly. Back is killing you after a day of moving boxes? You were likely pulling most of the weight with your lower back instead of using your leg muscles to squat and pick things up, balancing that weight between your legs and back. A lifetime of “doing things the wrong way” leaves a lot of older folks with chronic aches; my trainer works with some people like this, but they always leave the gym limping less than when they arrived.
- Whether your physical limitation comes from injury or disability or old age or something else, exercise is the only direct way to combat it; medicine, diet, or other methods are indirect. As long as you don’t get overzealous and overexert yourself, exercise can only improve your issues. Plus, a lot of people with disabilities experience depression. Exercise may not transform your whole outlook, but it can restore some personal pride/power when everything feels outside your control. Not only is exercise a confidence booster–it increases the release of happy chemicals in your brain (serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, adrenaline)–literally “a healthy high.”
More specific posts on exercise and exercising with a disability to come. Thanks for reading! Do you have or know someone who has a physical limitation? If so, how do you stay active?