Exercise and disability 

People living with a disability talk about how they exercise and how it improves their lives.

Paralympics: be inspired

Transcript of Exercise and disability

Having a disability is no barrier

to being able to participate in exercise at all.

We would really encourage everyone,

whether they have a disability or don't have a disability,

to make sure that they're making healthy lifestyle choices.

It's really very important.

54 years ago, I contracted transverse myelitis,

which is a bug in the spine.

And two years later I started to go swimming,

and I've been swimming all my life since.

When you're disabled it's hard to sometimes keep active

and I think this is a great way to keep active and healthy.

I think people with disabilities can tend to get a lot more unhealthy

than maybe the able-bodied,

so it's a great way to keep your health in good order as well as anything else.

I was born with a deformed right hand.

I had a series of operations to try and actually get me some fingers,

but my fingers really never grew.

I don't want people fawning over me,

but I need people to understand I just need something a bit different

to help me overcome odd problems or situations.

There's a perception among disabled people

that a gym is just a place for someone who's fit, healthy, very confident,

but nowadays gyms are much more open to all members of the community,

have staff who have been trained to make sure

that they can provide a very safe programme

for disabled people to enter exercise for the first time.

Because I've had two strokes and a partial hip operation,

walking is very difficult.

And I'm particularly lucky because everybody here has a helper.

I've been particularly lucky

because two of the helpers are very well-trained physiotherapists,

so they do exercises with me in the water as well as swimming.

I shouldn't do but I did do, I felt quite embarrassed about my disability,

and also, I wasn't really aware of the expertise of fitness instructors.

I was a bit concerned about having the guts

to go and see if it would actually work for me.

I'm pleased to say that I did go and yes, it was worthwhile.

Now, if I can show you muscle-wise,

I'm now within an inch, my biceps, of the other side,

but I was three inches down on my bicep muscles alone.

We've looked at promoting healthy lifestyles

in a fitness and a gym environment,

but there are lots of other opportunities

to engage in physical activity

for disabled people, whatever their impairment.

Without any reservation, I'd say get swimming.

There's something magical about being in the water.

It's very stress-relieving.

In a wheelchair you're very conscious of the fact

that you're sitting all the time,

therefore when you get into the water,

you've got the buoyancy and the freedom to move.

Having a healthy heart and a healthy approach to life

is just as important, in fact more important,

than for non-disabled people.

Over 60 per cent of wheelchair users

actually die from cardiovascular heart disease.

You see some guys playing

and after about two minutes of pushing they're all out of breath,

so it is important to keep fit.

(man) He gets the rebound.

I played able-bodied basketball with my artificial leg for a while,

but the wheelchair game is more suited for disabled people.

I've always had a love for the game, so it's just perfect for me to play.


It's a great way to have a different life away from your normal life

and I think it opens up a whole new world, like it did for me.

The things I've done since I've been playing basketball,

I never thought I'd do.

We've received really positive feedback from over 15,000 disabled people

who are new to exercise

who have been able to embrace fitness and gym-based activities.

I can do a lot more now than what I did before.

I'm just really pleased with myself and how things are turning out.

Whether it's a swimming pool or down by the sea in the salt water,

it doesn't matter.

Get mobile and keep going.

I spend every spare minute I can training

and trying to get to play for England by 2012. That's my aim.


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Nia21 said on 16 September 2011

I'm sorry but it isn't as easy as they are making out to lose weight when your a wheelchair user.
I live in South Wales, UK. None of the gyms in my area have machines that I can use. Every sport club is 30 mins drive away. I don't drive and I am unable to get to a bus stop or train station.
So I would love to know how the woman being interviewed has come to the conclusion that is is easy for Disabled people to get fit.

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