A new year can be a great way to set some personal health goals.
Are you looking for ways to get more active and stay fit this year? Take a look, we’ve lined up some exciting and fun ways to help your health goals, but first some advice...
Commit to a healthy eating plan and regular exercise. It’s a good idea to try a few different activities to find the ones you most enjoy. We’re all much more likely to continue doing something we find fun. For some that might be walking the dog daily, while others want to sail or practice archery. Whatever your activity level, there’s something out there for you.
Start off Slowly
It’s important to build up your activity gradually to help prevent injury. Don’t make the mistake of burning out early. Seek advice and support from your doctor or physical therapist. They’ll often have great suggestions that you may not have thought of before.
How will you create accountability for realising your goal? We all stick to goals much better when we tell someone else our goals because we then need to admit that we haven’t stuck to it. It’s also worth reminding yourself of the reason you’re doing this. Perhaps you want to be able to swim with your grandchild? Or prepare for a trek? There are some great online fitness communities that will cheer you along and be your #FitFam - just search relevant hashtags on Instagram.
Enjoying nature is a great way to “accidentally” exercise and lets you build up gradually. If you take up a hobby such as photography or bird watching, even the incidental activity can help you build up slowly. There are many wheelchair friendly walks and hikes at National Parks across New Zealand and Australia:
- New South Wales
- Victoria - In the Dandenong Ranges and the Grampians in Victoria, there’s a volunteer sherpa program to assist those with mobility limitations, just be sure to book!
- South Australia
- Western Australia
Muscular strength is really important, especially if you are relying on your upper body to help get you around. The repeated pushing motion used to push a wheelchair means that chest and shoulder muscles become tight due to extensive use of these muscle groups. Meanwhile, other muscles which are rarely used will become weaker since they aren’t worked. Simple exercises with minimal equipment can be a great way to counter some of these effects. A couple of weights and a resistance band is all that’s needed to work out in the comforts of your home. Some of the workouts that can be done with a resistance band include tricep extensions, shoulder press exercises, front shoulder raises, and side shoulder raises.
If you like the water it’s the perfect time of year. Whether it’s surfing or water aerobics, why not have a go? Swimming is a great way to get active and is highly recommended by occupational therapists. There’s a multitude of pools and some beaches that are accessible throughout Australia and New Zealand both indoors and outdoors. Call your local council for your nearest pool.
The elite sports featured in the Paralympics have club and state levels where they help you learn the sport. For instance, rowing in Australia includes para-rowing integrated with able-bodied programs. Browsing the Paralympics website can give you some great ideas. (https://www.paralympic.org.au/paralympic-sports/)
There are a multitude of interesting sports with accessibility programs. Perhaps you fancy yourself as a water skier? Or is indoor skydiving more your thing? Have you always wanted to scuba dive or perhaps to parasail? All of these sports have opportunities for those with limited mobility who want to try extreme activities. Some keywords to use in your Google searches include:
- Wheelchair Dance, Rugby, Basketball, Archery, Tennis, Powerlifting, Basketball, Table Tennis, Fencing. Shooting and Track and Road.
The benefits to foam rolling are well documented. Rolling both before and after any exercise helps blood flow and reduces muscle soreness. But have you used a foam roller on your forearms? It’s a great way to give your arms some help if they’ve been working hard pushing your wheelchair or typing too much on your phone!