Disabled? Think You Can't Be Athletic? Think Again.

Disabled? Think You Can’t Be Athletic? Think Again.

The new year is a perfect time to try and make some life changes. If you’re like many others, you’ve considered trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Eating better, changing some habits–these are all great starts. But one thing’s for sure: the best way to make this positive change is to begin an exercise program. But, what if you’re one of the almost 50 million Americans who suffer from some sort of disability? You might think that this setback makes it impossible for you to start exercising. Well, if that’s true, you need to think again.

Chances are you’ve never heard of Mark Inglis. Or Phillipe Croizon. In fact, most people will probably never hear of these individuals. And yet, for those people who go through life with some sort of disability, these men’s names (and many like them) should be names they are very familiar with. Why? Because these men never let their disabilities stop them from achieving their dreams, and both went on to accomplish spectacular feats. Mark Inglis, a double amputee, climbed Mt. Everest in 2006. And Phillipe Croizon, who lost all of his limbs in an accident many years ago, successfully swam the English Channel in 2010. Stories like these–and these two only scratch the surface–just go to show you that, regardless of the obstacles you might face in life, you can accomplish anything if you put your mind to it.

Of course, living with a disability does present some obstacles, and depending on your specific situation, the things you want to accomplish might change. Regardless of what you decide to work on, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Consult a Doctor or Physical Therapist First. This is always good advice, but just make sure your healthcare professional is aware of your new exercise program, and gives you the greenlight to begin. They might even have a program in mind that you should start.
  • Look For a Disability Exercise Group, or Start One. Chances are, you’re not the only one in your area with a disability who’s looking to get healthy. By joining a group, you can find the support and help that naturally comes from joining, coupled with knowledgeable people who are able to help you get the most from your unique situation.
  • Don’t Strain Yourself. This is another good piece of advice for everyone, but one that resonates even more when a disability is involved: don’t overdo it, especially when you are just starting out. This is a common mistake, and one that can lead to further problems in the future.

So, as you begin a new year, think about what you want to change in your life. And whatever you do, don’t think that having a disability somehow disqualifies you from living the life you wish to have. Remember Mark Inglis, Phillipe Croizon, and the millions of others who have made the decision to not let their disabilities slow them down, and then make the same choice.

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