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8 Ways for People With Disabilities to Stay Physically Fit This Winter
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8 Ways for People With Disabilities to Stay Physically Fit This Winter

Staying fit and active is so important, especially during the winter. A lot of the outdoor activities you know and love to do just aren’t going to be feasible in the cold weather and snow, so get a little creative with these exercise ideas that are winter-friendly.

1. Join an Adaptive Sports League  

One of the most popular ways to stay active and fit is to join an adaptive sports league. A lot of areas have specific wheelchair leagues for indoor spots, though basketball is by far the most popular. Check out the local listings for leagues, and if you can’t find any, consider starting your own!

2. Hit the Slopes  

A bit more niche of an option and more appropriate for winter, are winter sports for those in wheelchairs. Specific ski types exist for both paraplegic and quadriplegic people that want to hit the slopes, with different styles for people with different needs. Many people who use wheelchairs say that skiing turned into the most fun they’d ever had.

3. Work Out From the Comfort of Home  

If you’re more of a solitary person, you can stay pretty active without even having to leave the house. Plenty of at-home pilates and yoga regiments can be done on a mat in front of the TV and work to limber up your upper body and strengthen your core. This can be done in preparation for other more intensive activities to give you a real edge.

4. Become a Yogi  

Alternatively, there are classes specifically for in-chair yoga. Rather than the issue of adapting standard yoga to your needs, it’s been done for you. Search around your locality for these opportunities, so you can have flexibility and core exercises designed specifically for your needs.

5. Try a Seated Tai Chi Class

Tai Chi also presents a seated form, primarily done as an alternative for its relaxing and stress-reducing effects. It’s often called meditation in motion, and while it has known health benefits, isn’t a particularly high heart rate inducing activity, so you might want to pair it with another form of exercise and reap the benefits of both.

6. Lift Weights

Weightlifting is always an opportune activity, no matter the time of year. You’ll have to make some adaptations from the standard approaches, so look into wheelchair-specific weight lifting forms to prevent any injuries from misuse. Weightlifting can also have a competitive aspect to it, too, if you’re eager to compete!

7. Try Bowling

For something fun and active you can do as a group, there are always activities like bowling. Only some minor adjustments must be made to facilitate bowling from a chair, and that means it can be done in a mixed group with no trouble.

8. Play a Mean Game of Table Tennis

Table tennis is another option for recreation that keeps you active without any worries about the cold outside. It’s an easy start, whether at a rec center or from a table at your home and can easily grow into something competitive.

With that fairly long list of ideas, consider how you can integrate them into your life. It’s a great idea to turn over a new, active or fit leaf, but sticking with it is key. Here are some ways you can make your new healthy habits stick with you through the winter, and the rest of the year, too.

Make it a family activity! Whether it’s just you and a sibling or spouse, or the whole family joins in, you’re much more likely to keep at your recreational activities if everyone else is excited and raring to go. Schedule it for a weekend or a certain weeknight and make everyone hyped and ready for it.  

Schedule it out for yourself. Set aside specific days for your choice of activity, and schedule everything else around them. Plan ahead and get your car ready for your workout by packing your bag, some protein-packed snacks, and transitional chair ahead of time. Your health and fitness time come first on those days. This way, you’ll be less likely to make an excuse and it will become a weekly habit.  

If you do miss out on a day or two, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just fit in small substitutes here or there—if you couldn’t make it to the gym for weightlifting or the rec center for basketball, try some basic yoga or weights at home. It doesn’t have to be as intensive or time-consuming as what you missed, just try and keep your body in the habit as best as you can.  

Have fun with it! Frequently, these habits are broken simply because it wasn’t fun to start with. Don’t pick out an activity because you feel you need to. Pick out something because you’re excited to do it, and you’ll keep coming back for more.

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