It’s that time of the year when many of us are bracing ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of cold winter weather. While you may shiver at the thought, the cold, snow and ice shouldn’t spell an end to your physical activity. It may be time to consider adaptive sports. The winter season is too long, in Canada, to deprive ourselves of the many benefits of regular physical activity for such an extended period. This is especially true for persons with physical impairments and disabilities.
Exercise provides some major benefits like:
- Strengthening the cardiovascular system
- Regulating fuel use in our bodies
- Reducing obesity
- Increasing lean muscle mass and improving body composition
- Elevating our stress threshold
- Improving our mood
- Boosting our immune systems
- Strengthening our bones
- Improving attention and learning
- Reducing effects of aging in the brain
- Building a strong brain
- Affecting recovery after brain injuries
In fact, much of what we do at Propel Physiotherapy is based in normal movement and therapeutic exercises aimed at optimizing mobility and reaping all the benefits that go along with it.
Related story: Can Exercise Improve Our Brain Health?
Exercise Guidelines for Adults with Spinal Cord Injury
The scientific guidelines developed for SCI Action Canada by an international panel of experts and funded by a grant from the Rick Hansen Institute, strongly recommend that for cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength benefits, adults with a spinal cord injury should engage in at least 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise 2 times per week; and 3 sets of strength exercises for each major functioning muscle group, at a moderate to vigorous intensity, 2 times per week.
If you find yourself in the camp of those hibernating indoors, from December to March, under a warm blanket in front of your screen of choice, it may be time to consider trying a new adaptive sport.
Recreational programs have recognized the need to remove barriers to make it possible for all people to enjoy winter activities. Adaptive sports can allow the freedom of movement and enjoyment of the outdoors using specialized equipment and/or trained instructors. These activities include:
Adapted Alpine Skiing
An impairment or disability shouldn’t stop anyone from getting back to skiing. A number of specialized equipment including sit-skis, outriggers, long poles and snow sliders to name a few, as well as guide skiers to accompany downhillers who are visually impaired can be used to help people hit the slopes.
To learn more visit Alpine Ontario and Canadian Adaptive Snowsports – Ontario.
Adapted Nordic Skiing
Cross country skiing is an excellent way to exercise and improve your physical fitness. At Cross Country Ski Ontario, you can find information on sit-skis which allow people with a disability to their lower body disability to use a wheelchair-like device to cross country ski. Races are also available for people with other physical impairments including the use of a guide for people with visual impairments.
This exciting and fast sport is played by people of all abilities. Sledge hockey players use lightweight aluminum sleds to move around on the ice. Players hold a stick in both hands, with each stick having a spiked end and a curved blade on each end. These sticks allow players to move the sled across the ice, stickhandle, pass and shoot. Learn more on the Ontario Sledge Hockey Association website.
Related story: Client Appreciation Month Spotlight on Tiffany Gaudette: How Adaptive Sports Changed Her Life
Don’t let winter slow you down. Talk to your therapist about how you can stay active in the cold.
For more information visit on adaptive sports visit Parasport Ontario.
Traction: Keeping Safe on Foot & on Wheels This Winter
Winter should not limit people of any ability from enjoying the outdoors. One key component to keeping safe and independent is traction. This includes traction on tires for people in wheelchairs, modified cane tips for people using canes, or a traction system over your footwear to prevent falls and slipping. Improving traction through snow and ice can help you stay independent through the winter.
For some cheap tricks on how to stop your winter boots from slipping check out the post: 7 Hacks to Make Boots Slip Proof So You Can Survive Winter Weather Without Injury.