Staying Healthy & Active
There has been much reported over the last 12 months about how the benefits of keeping active can help improve both your health and your emotional and mental well-being. Whether you are training for a marathon, attending a yoga class or spending a few hours gardening, being active can bring many benefits.
Age is also no limitation to the activities that you can take part in. Many schools have introduced more physical education classes and after school clubs offering activities and those in their ‘golden years’ are taking up more activities than ever before – often so they can keep up with their grandchildren!
In the past someone with a disability, complex learning need or in need of additional support would not have been able to take part in being active, however over recent years this has changed; the Invictus Games now offers ex-serving military personnel who have been wounded in action the opportunity to complete & the awareness for the Paralympics has grown (watch out for the next Games at the end in Tokyo in 2020! The is encouraging the next generation of sportsmen and women to pick up a javelin, put on a pair of swimming goggles or lace up a new pair of running shoes!
Why Stay Active?
Cancer Research UK reported that 4 out of 10 cases of cancer could be prevented by a change in lifestyle – that’s 135,000 lives that could be saved. The charity Mind explains why taking up an activity can help those with mental health issues. Many charities offering support to those that have a ‘visible’ disability report that individuals become more confident once they take up an activity, which can lead to them taking a greater responsibility for their overall well-being.
However, it’s not just about staying active. Sometimes it can be about changing several elements of your lifestyle in order to help your physical and mental well-being. The NHS has a great resource that gives advice and guidance on making changes across the different aspects of your life – eating well, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and taking exercise are just a few of the different areas.
There is also the social side of taking part in an activity. We all have days when we feel our energy levels are low and we would rather sit with a good book or the TV remote control, but if a group of people are relying on you as part of an activity, then this motivation can get you out of the door and into a place of positive energy. Meeting up with people who have a shared interest is often one of the strongest bonds outside of a family unit – it can bring you close to like-minded people who have gone through similar experiences to you and you can share your stories.
How to Stay Active
You don’t have to train for the Special Olympics or take up long-distance running as part of the England Athletics team – although you could if you wanted to! Even the smallest of changes now can start to reap rewards in a matter of weeks.
Having a disability, whether it is visible to other people or not, may have stopped you in the past, but please don’t let it stop you in the future. A member of the MyLiferaft team was invited to attend the National Junior Games at Stoke Mandeville Stadium last year and was amazed at the different activities that are now available and the positive, almost electric, atmosphere!
Staying Active also doesn’t have to mean you build up a sweat! Walking and gardening have both been recognised as having great benefits to both your physical and mental well-being, and being outside is an added bonus – even with our Autumn weather approaching! There is no sport that isn’t available to people with a disability; Some of the lower impact sports you might consider include yoga, pilates, swimming, aqua aerobics & bowls.
To pick up the pace, dancing, cycling, athletics and court-based activities are just a few of the ‘higher intensity’ activities that you can take part in and being in a wheelchair doesn’t mean you have to sit on the side lines as a spectator. The British Wheelchair Athletic Association (BWAA) has the pentathlon as a discipline which involves completing 5 different sports and Wheelpower will put you in touch with organisations that can have you using your wheels for table-tennis, basketball, bowls, curling & rugby! Fencing, tennis, ice-hockey, rowing, gymnastics, cricket, canoeing, archery and angling are also available so finding an activity to suit you is easier than you think!
MyLiferaft supporting Sports, Activities & Well-Being
As well as using MyLiferaft to keep a record of medical appointments, treatments and medications, you can also use it to help motivate you to stay active and healthy!
- Use our Goals to help you set sporting or physical achievements or if you are trying to lose weight, use the Goals to set up a weight loss target
- You can track your progress using our Trackers which can be personalised to match your Goals
- The Calendar allows you to set up a training schedule if you are taking part in an event
- Create a food diary in our Journal so you can monitor what you are eating and how often
- You can Share all of this information with family, friends and professionals within your care circle, so when you achieve your goals, you can tell everyone!
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There are now so many different organisations offering sporting opportunities and activities that it is difficult to get all the information in one place! Below are several of the organisations that we have found that specialise in offering activities to the disabled and those with additional needs. You can find even more in the Sports & Activity section in the MyLiferaft Resources on our website.