Exercise is healthy and important for everybody, both for overall health and for more specific reasons. Nothing new. For blind and visually impaired people exercise is important because it can strengthen spacial awareness, movement coordination and because it also gives you increased physical energy, it gives you increased mental energy.
A lot of mental energy is especially important when you can’t see, because that tends to be what we use to complete tasks such as orientation. For example, you may not have a physical issue with going to your corner shop and get that pint of milk you forgot to get earlier, but mentally even a short trip like that can be extremely exhausting. People in the street giving you unwanted attention, shop workers not seeing you and if you have a bad day, finding that bloody counter so that they will see you.
I find that the better my physical shape is, the less issues I have with other daily tasks. Investing in a personal trainer and really getting to know my local gym is the biggest favour I’ve done for myself.
If there is one thing blind people should get subsidized support for, personal trainer should be it. Because it is such a life changing experience. In Norway, blind people can get physio therapy, but unless you have some kind of physical damage you need to constantly work on, or rehabilitate, then physio won’t do that much for you. So in a country like Norway, physio or personal trainer should both be offered as alternatives and not just for the blind, but all disabled people. At least for a certain number of sessions.
But of course, not every country in the world is a welfare state, so in those cases, other options need to be looked into.
I can’t stress enough though that any kind of exercise really will transform your life, whether it is working out alone in a gym, or attend dance classes. You may be like how I was and have a bike at home which you work out on because the gym is just a little too daunting. Nothing wrong with that. I still have my bike and use it. But exercising in other environments is so refreshing and confidence boosting.
The best place to start is to find something that interests you and contact the local gym, dance teacher etc. who organises whatever it is. Explain that you’re blind and may need a little extra help to get into the swing of things. My experience is that although you can meet patronizing people anywhere, personal trainers, yoga teacher, dance teacher etc., are just delighted that you want to take up something they care about. And so they have a can do attitude to make things enjoyable and doable for you. The same goes for other people you may take a class or go to the gym with.
And another great thing is that once you feel comfortable with one thing, you can try new things. I do numerous classes at my gym now as well as working out alone. Variation is key.
Finally, and of course I have to say this, the fact that exercise makes you look good helps too. Doesn’t it?