It can be easy to overlook physical fitness and exercise. If you're currently not very active this page will help answer some of your questions and get you started with an activity that suits your lifestyle.
What benefits can I expect from being active?
Being active will improve your health and wellbeing both physically and mentally. Being active also has enormous social benefits, getting you out and about and meeting new people. Whatever your impairment or health condition, becoming more active can only make you fitter and healthier. You may feel tired after exercising, but in the long term, it will give you more energy. Regular exercise can help you with everyday activities. It can boost memory, reduce stress and improve sleep.
How much activity should I do?
The Department of Health says adults between the ages of 19 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-level aerobic activity a week, this means getting warm and breathe harder. An easy way to get your 150 minutes would be to do 30 minutes on five days of the week. They also recommend muscle-strengthening activity on two or more days a week.
Don't worry about hitting these targets straight away: it's more important to do something active that you enjoy. Many wheelchair users will not be doing anywhere near that volume of physical activity. If you're currently not very active, aim to start with 10-minute sessions each day and gradually build up.
Do I have to play sport to be active?
Physical activity doesn't have to mean the gym or competitive sport if that doesn't appeal to you. If you're currently not very active, you can start by increasing everyday physical activities. This will help to improve your health. Walking, dancing, swimming or pushing around the local park are all great ways to get out and get active. Even household chores like gardening and cleaning with help improve your health.
Always seek advice from your GP, Physio, or a trained exercise professional regarding the type and amount of physical activity and exercise you should be doing.
What if my chosen activity isn't accessible to me?
Fitness providers are not allowed to use health and safety as an excuse to not make their offering accessible to you. The law allows disabled people to make choices about what to try. If you want to try a sport or use a facility you have a right to ask, and to expect people to make “reasonable adjustments” to accommodate you.
How do I maintain an active lifestyle?
The best way to stay active is to build exercise into your regular routine so that it becomes a habit. This is why lots of people join teams, clubs or the gym. The financial and social elements are often enough to motivate you to show up when you're not feeling up to it.
How can I build confidence in being active?
Don’t be afraid to get involved, everyone is in the same position and you'll find they're just like you. More and more places are becoming accessible and we have lots of resources to help you find solutions if you're motivated to get active.
I want to be active, what type of exercise should I do?
Try to choose activities that work your heart and help flexibility, strength, coordination and balance. Choose something you enjoy as you're more likely to go back for more.
I'm worried about getting injured, what can I do?
Low-impact exercise minimises the chance of injury. Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates are great for improving muscle strength, tone and balance. Swimming is one of the safest ways to exercise, being in the water maximises the benefit you get from your movements.
I don't have a gym near me, what can I do at home?
Exercise DVDs are very popular, and lots of exercises require no equipment at all. There are also lots of free workout videos on YouTube and smartphone apps that can design a workout for you.
How can I get fit as part of my daily routine?
Being active doesn't need to involve joining a sports team and committing lots of time. Whenever possible, walk or push to where you're going, cycle or take the stairs if you're able.
The English Federation of Disability Sport has produced a 'Being Active' guide called a guide that will give you the information you need to start getting active.