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Tips for staying active with a disability

Chris Gmitro

Physical disabilities can come in many different forms and require different strategies to manage. Whether it’s a mobility issue, visual impairment, or you’re confined to a wheelchair, the need for physical activity is paramount. Staying active and being able to get out and move around your community is vital for the wellbeing of both your body and mind.

As the Centers for Disease Control puts it, “having a disability does not mean a person is not healthy or that he or she cannot be healthy. Being healthy means the same thing for all of us - getting and staying well so we can lead full, active lives. Here are some tips for staying active with a physical disability.

Find exercise that best suits your needs/limitations

Staying active and getting enough exercise is important for anyone, but it’s especially important for those with a physical disability. Not only does regular exercise help boost mood and mental health, it also helps to prevent additional complications that can arise from your physical disability.

The first step is to set realistic, tangible exercise goals. Write them down. Keep an exercise journal that tracks your progress. When something is measureable, it’s easier to keep focused.

It’s important to know that “staying active” is not confined to traditional “workouts.” You don’t have to run miles or lift weights to stay active. Everyone is different, and you need to feel comfortable tailoring your activity to what your body can handle. Find an accessible local pool and go for a swim. Take up gardening or yoga. These are all great low-impact methods of staying active. Know how to target your disability. Stretching exercises are crucial for some with musculoskeletal conditions. For those confined to a wheelchair, strength exercises can improve mobility.

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability has some great resources on maintain physical activity.

Give yourself some help to get around town

Don’t always attempt to “power through” your disability on your own. Your physical disability is only a limitation if you let it control your everyday life. Accepting various methods of aid is not weak, it’s smart. Truly living without limits comes when you accept your limitations and begin to make steps to manage/offset them. Living in denial is not sustainable.

For those with visual impairments and some other conditions, a service dog may be the best way to stay mobile.

“These specially trained dogs can help by retrieving objects that are out of their person’s reach, opening and closing doors, turning light switches off and on, barking to indicate that help is needed, finding another person and leading the person to the handler, assisting ambulatory persons to walk by providing balance and counterbalance, providing deep pressure, and many other individual tasks as needed by a person with a disability,” says Assistance Dogs International.

Apart from getting a canine helper, you should look into other transportation aids including canes, walkers, and scooters. Even if you can get around in short bursts without a mobility aid, getting around town is another story. You might want to invest in one of these for extended periods of mobility, like grocery shopping or taking a stroll through your city park.

Join a class

Fitness classes have the benefit of adhering to a tight schedule and providing accountability for those involved. Through fitness classes, people with physical disabilities can make human connections that help them stay motivated. They can also benefit from the expertise of those who work with physical disabilities on a daily basis.

How to Step Up Your Camp-Kitchen Game: THE RAMEN BOMB

Chris Gmitro

Nourishing yourself in the great outdoors is no easy feat and the farther you get from civilization the more difficult it becomes. Sure we all have that climbing partner who brings lamb and kale lasagna and eats it right in front of you while you enjoy your humble PB&J.  As you venture farther away from the comfort of your kitchen and rely on a backpack to transport food for days (or even weeks), the importance of thoughtful meal planning can’t be ignored. In fact, it can make or break your plans of achieving a big objective.

 

The key to success for meal planning on extended trips is having a variety of lightweight and calorie-dense vehicles to which you can add substance.  Common vehicles might be pasta, quinoa, or tortillas, to which you might add cheese, veggies, fresh-caught fish, trailside-harvested leafy greens, or any number of lightweight dehydrated foodstuffs.

The Ramen Bomb is a technique that has less weight than ready-to-eat breads and requires less cooking time than most pastas and grains.

  • Start with one packet of ramen per person and double the amount of water the package recommends.  

  • When the water comes to a boil, drop in the ramen and simmer for about 30 seconds.

  • Have a zip lock bag of instant mashed potatoes at the ready and add a few spoonfuls at a time to thicken the bomb. Stop adding the potatoes when you can dip a spoon in the mix and it comes out just coated; the bomb will continue to thicken. 

  • Now is the time for add-ins, dig into your food bag and make use of anything that casts a shadow… I’ve gotten as crazy as peanut butter and Nutella, trout and wild onions, cheese and salami, canned oysters and crème fresh. The sky is the limit!

Ramen noodles and dehydrated refried beans (or mashed potatoes) with mix-ins of cheese, spices, hot sauce, & avocado.

Ramen noodles and dehydrated refried beans (or mashed potatoes) with mix-ins of cheese, spices, hot sauce, & avocado.

Practice and refine your technique and share the crazy ramen bombs you create by tagging your pictures with #wasatchready and #theramenbomb on social media.

Warning: The Ramen Bomb is a backcountry technique and should be used with caution the closer you get to society.`