People with Disabilities Can Reap Health Benefits from a Little Exercise
The 2010 Paralympic Games kicked off in Vancouver, March 12 and continues until March 21 with world-class competitions in alpine skiing, cross country skiing, biathlon, wheelchair curling and sled hockey. These athletes have not allowed physical disabilities block their personal paths to achieving excellence through sports competition. Each and every one of them has a story to inspire us all to get motivated to move. Watch events this week on Paralympic TV.
It is no big secret that exercise promotes general well-being and better health, but for people with disabilities, access to sports activities is the bigger challenge. Groups like Access Sports America, is working to provide opportunities for people with all disabilities to experience high-challenge sports to achieve high-function fitness.
The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation is another organization that promotes physical fitness for people with disabilities. The group offers “Quality of Life” grants to help groups that are working to improve the lives of people with disabilities. One of three major categories is the “Actively Achieving” category for projects that provide fitness opportunities to enable people with paralysis to enjoy sports activities. Why? Not only to improve quality of life, but also to keep muscles and bones strong and ready for new treatments.
The point is, exercise is important – and you don’t have to do a lot of it to achieve health benefits. According to a report of the Surgeon General on Physical Activity and Health for Persons with Disabilities, “People with disabilities are less likely to engage in regular moderate physical activity than people without disabilities, yet they have similar needs to promote their health and prevent unnecessary disease.”
What are just a few of the benefits of physical activity? Moderate daily activity can:
- Reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, colon cancer, and diabetes
- Improve stamina and muscle strength
- Improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Control joint swelling and pain associated with arthritis
- Reduce blood pressure in some people with hypertension
The American Diabetes Association is a proponent of physical activity as it relates to persons with diabetes and provides an entire section on Fitness on its Web site including top 10 benefits of being active. Check it out.
Exercise is good for you. Not convinced? Just keep watching the Paralympic Winter Games for more inspiration.