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How Do Blind People Exercise?

Jump rope and blue towel

How Do Blind People Exercise?

How cool is it that this month’s guest post from BlindAlive allowed us to introduce you to another blogger? Since I like to keep things on the “up and up” Kirsty Major gave me permission to republish her article shared on BlindAlive. The article that follows is an edited version where Kirsty shares some fabulous exercise tips and tools. To see Kirsty’s original article please visit her site at Unseen Beauty. Okay, let’s dive in. ~Steph

“Being unable to see doesn’t mean that you can’t stay fit! This is what I do.” ~Kirsty Major

So How Do Blind People Exercise?

You may have been asked this question, or perhaps you found BlindAlive during your search for an answer. While many people enjoy Eyes-Free Fitness Workouts, blind and visually impaired people have many ways to remain active. We recently met Kirsty Major, owner of Unseen Beauty. and are pleased to share one of her posts with you. ~Mel Scott

Keeping Fit When You Can’t See

Red exercise hand weightsWhen I worked in London, I got daily exercise without even thinking about it. It was a 30 to 40-minute walk to the train station, which I usually power-walked with my guide dog. This wasn’t really to keep fit, but just because we enjoyed it!

Then there was a 40-minute train ride followed by a 10 to 15-minute walk to the office. Anyway, apart from days when it was pouring rain, or snowing, I really enjoyed these walks.

Still, over 2.5 hours of travel every day is a lot. I was always happy when I negotiated a working from home day. Partly because I didn’t have to commute, and partly because I felt I made much faster progress at home than in the noisy open-plan office.

Taking Action

When I decided to set up my business, I still took my dog for a walk, but I didn’t miss the commute. However, as my dog grew older, the walks were usually not as long as the trip to and from the station. I realised at this point I needed to do something more for my fitness.

So I invested in an exercise bike to make sure I got my daily exercise. This was something I could put in my spare room and use it whatever the weather.

Well, buying the bike was the easy bit. I said I’d use it when I had time, which often meant free time never came. Planning to do exercise when you have time is a bad idea!

Closeup image of a barbell

When I moved in with my boyfriend who owns a cross-trainer, I brought my bike with me. In terms of my exercise routine, I decided something needed to change so now I put it in the diary. Like a meeting, I have to attend—Monday to Friday—every day.

It’s ok if the meeting gets put back a couple of hours, but the meeting has to happen! Only then can I click away from the Outlook reminder and know that the job is done! This is important to me, partly because I have a desk-based job without the benefit of walking to work. Also, there are considerations with being blind where you sometimes have to be a bit more proactive if you want to stay fit.

While I’ve heard some positive experiences about blind people going to the gym. I’ve also heard of people struggling with staff who are not particularly helpful, or machines that are not accessible.

I would rather make the initial investment in exercise equipment and have it at home, for my personal use. There is nobody who will change the settings making it harder for me to use. I don’t have to queue which machines are available or take time to travel to and from the gym. Ok and I don’t have to listen to anyone else’s music choices either. I listen to my own music or podcasts to make sure I don’t get bored!

Tools For Tracking Progress

As I can’t use the display on either machine, I generally do 20 minutes on the bike and 45 minutes on the cross-trainer. I use the step counter on my iPhone to measure the distance and I like to use the app from Withings. The Withings app is generally accessible, apart from some buttons that I labeled myself. I don’t use all of the functions, but I can keep track of how far I’ve gone each day, which is what interests me.

For anyone who wants to measure their blood pressure or heart rate, the Withings wireless blood pressure monitor is fully accessible because you use it with the app. Personally, I think this is a better alternative than some of the talking blood pressure monitors. Since you can store your activity, heart rate, and blood pressure measurements in the same place. Whereas some of the so-called accessible talking stand-alone devices say in the instructions that you need sighted assistance for some functions.

I tried a wrist tracker device, but it annoyed me because it didn’t seem to track all of my steps. Also, I could only read my progress score when I synchronised the device with my phone, which was a faff. I’d much rather check the total going up in real-time on the app. However, if you can see enough to read the screen of the device, it might be ok for you. Here’s the link for the Withings Pulse activity tracker.

Mixing Up Exercise Routines

Last Christmas, my mum bought us a set of York Fitness cast iron dumbbells. I like this particular set because you can change the weight of the dumbbells by adding or removing the metal discs. They come with a set of exercises, which my boyfriend showed me last week, and I plan to include using the weights in my fitness routine – ok, when my arms have recovered, that is!

It’s good to do other physical activities as well. I enjoy going for walks, have been on tandem and canoeing holidays and used to ride horses as a child. However, I see these things as additions, whereas I need a plan to make sure I get enough exercise. Being able to do so whenever I need it, without relying on someone else being available. For me, the exercise regimen with the bike and the cross-trainer is the ideal solution.

I have heard about some audio exercise classes specifically for blind people, which means that the exercises are described. This is something that I would be interested in exploring because I can’t follow normal fitness videos or YouTube classes. If I decide to try them out, I’ll report back later here.

I know there are many blind people who are interested in sports and who play team games or take part in local activities. I don’t really do this, because I need my fitness plan to fit in with my schedule, and for me, it’s about keeping fit rather than finding additional social activities.

I think there are a fair number of blind people who struggle because they haven’t yet found good and accessible ways of keeping fit. However, exercise bikes don’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re not looking for features on the electronic display.

When you consider the price of a gym membership, I think they are a good investment. If that is too expensive, finding a friend who can describe exercises and then write them down is also a good workaround.

If I’m away on business and don’t feel like investigating the hotel gym on my own, I often use these exercises from the NHS fitness pages. However, I still think it’s a good idea to get someone to check the first time that what you are doing is in line with the images on the page.

Summary:

Kirsty lives in England and runs a business teaching English to German-speaking adults. You can learn more at her website.

To view the comments associated with this piece and Explore more of Kirsty’s writing, you can visit her blog.

And of course, BlindAlive would love to have you share your comments and impressions with them. You can comment on their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or subscribe to their informative chat list.

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Blindness, Self-Confidence, and Being Enough

Blindness, Self-Confidence, and Being Enough Featured Image Description is in the body of the post.

Today’s Guest Post was originally published on BlindAlive February 05, 2017 by Mel Scott

Being Enough What Does It Mean?

What does it mean to “be enough?” How does it feel? How will we know when we have reached that blissful state of “enoughness?”

These questions have been churning in my brain consciously for years, and probably subconsciously all my life. Well, I have been pondering on it long enough. I have some ideas that might help sort it out.

To say, “I am enough” is a very different statement than, “I have enough.” We can quantify “having enough:” there is enough food, shelter, or whatever it is that is required. “Being enough” is a bit more elusive. It is a state of mind. To be willing to say, “I am enough” and truly believe it, even for an instant, allows for a feeling of inner spaciousness; a peaceful expansion of consciousness.

I could easily tell you at this point to do twenty affirmations every day saying, “I am enough,” and eventually you will feel better. This absolutely can be an effective practice. I use it myself but I want to introduce another idea.

Are We Being Realistic In Our Expectations?

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation and the person said to me, “I am sad because I am not enough.” Usually, I might have said something like, “Of course you are, look at all the people you have helped and influenced over your lifetime.” There are a lot of dismissive remarks I could have made. This time, however, what shot out of my mouth was, “You are right! You are not enough and you never will be, so get over it!” I felt kind of shocked when it spilled out of me, but I realized the truth of the statement immediately.

How can any of us ever be “enough” when the To Do List is infinite? How can we be enough when we feel “less than” due to blindness, deafness, or a thousand other physical conditions, or when the size of our pants aren’t the size we have decided is the perfect one? How can we ever be enough when we measure ourselves by a superhero we have conjured up in our own minds? How can we be enough when the mark moves up as soon as we reach it?

We can’t! There is no way! Therefore, to be sad about not being enough means you will be sad about it the rest of your life. That does not work for me.

A Proposed Solution

The way I see it is I can either drop the thought, “I am not enough” and even drop the thought “I am enough.” They really are not useful because a measurement is inherent in both statements. I propose we drop them both. Can you imagine that? You never have to be enough again and you never will feel sad again because you are not enough. “Being enough” is no longer a measurement that applies to us.

How does that feel?

For me, a whole world of guilt-free possibilities just opened up. So much inner space can be created if we get over “being enough.” Let it go and observe how you feel. Take it in and you might breathe easier.

BlindAlive would love to hear your reactions to this post. You can comment on their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, or subscribe to their informative chat list.

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In the photo are 6 flat stones atop one another decreasing in size to convey balance. The stones are sitting on a rocky beach in the foreground. In the background is the ocean and the pastel colored sky is on the horizon. The color palette is a calm, soothing one in softly muted grays, blues, pinks, and whites.

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Mel Scott On Eyes-Free Fitness®

Image is BlindAlive's logo a red/orange circle with the word BlindAlive. The "A" in Alive is a symbol of a person with legs stretched out in an "A" formation as they reach up with outstretched arms.

How To Start Exercising With Eyes-Free Fitness®

Originally published on BlindAlive by Mel Scott. Mel is a regular featured guest and Woman On The Move.

Recently I attended The American Council of the Blind conference. I met so many people, and the same question came up over and over. They would ask, “I don’t exercise, but I know I should. Where should I start, and what should I do?”

This is a common problem in our community, mainly because the choices for well-described programs have been almost non-existent. I have made it my mission over the last two years to create choices for people at all fitness levels. It is crucial that we move our bodies regularly so we feel healthy.

Today I am going to discuss the absolute beginner. You should consult your medical team before you start any exercise program. With that said, the best places to start with the Eyes-Free Fitness® programs are as follows:

Eyes-Free Fitness® Starter Recommendations

  1. The Gentle Workout Set is the first of three options I recommend. The set has four short workouts and you can do them standing or in a chair. There is a section that requires standing next to a chair. These workouts introduce you to basic cardio and strength training moves. You can do a different one every day. A detailed description can be found at our site.
  2. Pilates Chair With Ring is another great place to start with. You use a chair for the entire workout and it works your whole body. It makes use of a Pilates ring, which is a springy ring with foam handles. The ring can be found at sporting goods stores or through this website, and you can learn more about the workout by visiting our site.
  3. Gentle Yoga For Beginners is where you want to start if yoga is your interest, and being on the floor is okay for you. The entire sequence is on the floor, so there are no standing poses. Once you are on the floor, you can stay there until the end. This flow is great for warming joints and talking you through basic breathing and foundation poses. This link will give you all the information you need to get started.

I think these three options are good places to start for those who have never exercised or who need to ease back into activity with Eyes-Free Fitness®. I suggest that you try these and then you can move to the Level One workouts. We will discuss these more in an upcoming post.

We want to support you in every way we can to feel better than you do now. You may contact us through our Facebook page, on Twitter, or on our BlindAlive Community on Facebook.

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Guest Post: Mel Scott

The Time Between Time: Liminal Space

Image of a flip day calendar starting at Dec 21 ending at Dec 31 the words Liminal space floating out of the calendar pages.Originally Published on BlindAlive by Mel Scott

The last ten days of December is a favorite time of year for me. Not for religious reasons or for the anticipation of gifts, decadent food and drink, but because it is my designated time of reflection and imagining. I call this liminal space. The transitional time between the old and the new; the time between time when I allow myself to gather what I learned from the past year and time to imagine the New Year. It is that quiet time or still point between inhaling and exhaling. For me, it is marked from Winter Solstice to January 1st.

The prospect of a clean new year has always excited me. I love the thought of getting to start again or better yet, to build another layer onto the foundation that I have created slowly over the years.

My practice is, on December 21st to acknowledge the year gone by with curiosity and with gratitude. I write about it, think about it, and laugh and even cry over it. I want to make sure that I didn’t miss anything and at the same time, forgive myself for what was surely missed. There is no way that I am so conscious that I captured all that was there for me to learn. This is also the time when I let myself off the hook.

This time of transition, the liminal space – is the time between December 21st and January 1st. During this time I celebrate, eat, drink, laugh, cry, and stay in my pajamas. I even eat cinnamon rolls. I sing songs just because I like the tunes. I buy myself, and others, things we don’t even need just because I feel like it. I catch up with old friends and most important, I rest my mind. This is my time for mind clearing, for house clearing and for making space for all that is creative and new.

When December 31st comes around, I am more than ready get grounded in a routine again. Usually on New Year’s Eve I force myself to read my journal from the past year and sum it up. Sometimes I resist this practice, but I do it anyway. I close out the old files and start new ones the next day. On New Year’s Day or the day after, I declare my intention for the New Year. I do not make all kinds of resolutions. I set one goal for myself. It usually involves learning something new.

One year I proclaimed it “the year of the computer.” I was determined to learn it so that it became a tool, not an enemy. One year, I vowed to feed my family better and learn to cook. The last few years have been centered on making my little company something that I can be proud of. Next year I intend to build on the foundation I have created. I have not solidified it in my mind yet, but December 21st is not here yet. My hope is that 2017 will be a year of a gentle evolution. I am imagining a purposeful, prosperous year, full of health and generosity.

This will be my last blog for 2016, I will not be writing again this year. So, my wish for you is that you allow yourself some “liminal” space for reflection and imagining.

I am so incredibly grateful for all of you. May your upcoming days be peaceful.

Good health to you,

Mel