Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to increase your quality of life, as it can improve your energy, mood, strength, and endurance while supporting overall health and longevity.

This is true for everyone, including those who may face health challenges such as a physical or mental disability. 

But getting started can be all the more overwhelming if you’re in this boat. So we’ve put together an overview of what you need to know if you have a disability and want to get started with exercise. 

Exercising with a disability: What you need to know

talk to your doctor

As certified personal trainers, we are qualified to suggest exercise programming, provide nutritional advice of a general nature, and supplement your knowledge of overall healthy habits.

However, our scope of practice within the health field stops there. Fitness professionals have no business rendering any sort of medical advice or rehabilitation service, and it’s important to be wary of any trainer who attempts to do so.

If you’ve been diagnosed with (or suspect you may have) a disability that may place some boundaries on physical activity, your first step should be to speak with your doctor about what you should and shouldn’t do. 

choose your trainer with care

Working out with a trainer is a great idea if you have unique needs – but you’ll want to choose carefully. Most personal trainers have an area of specialty or niche of clients they prefer to work with. If you have a disability, it’s important to look for a trainer who understands and/or has some experience with your condition.

At Nielsen Fitness, we work with all kinds of clients who face health challenges, including those with cancer, osteoporosis, chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease, PCOS, endometriosis, and more. With the approval of your physician, we can help implement a plan that may reduce any difficult symptoms caused by a health condition.

start slow

If you’re new to the world of fitness, it’s important to start slow (whether you have a disability or not). Beginning a new activity routine can be taxing on the body as it adapts. It’s best to introduce exercise at a pace that ensures minimal soreness and reduces physical/mental stress: your workout routine should support your lifestyle, not hinder it! A personal trainer will help you figure out the right place to start, and how and when to increase your level of difficulty to ensure you’re exercising safely and effectively. 

ask questions

Whether you have a disability or not, you can (and should) ask your personal trainer as many questions as you like. Your trainer is there to support you by making you feel as comfortable and confident as possible during a workout. If you’re ever feeling unsure of how something should feel in your body, ask for help!

The best thing you can do to improve the quality of your workout (and, therefore, your workout results) is ensure you’re using proper form to target the appropriate muscles.

final thoughts

Lastly, it’s important to remember that exercise is for everybody. No matter the challenges you may face, there is a fitness routine for almost everyone. Adaptations, regressions, and progressions can always be made to make your workout routine right for you. As fitness professionals, it’s our job to design programs that respect our clients as individuals.

If you have a disability but are nervous to start exercising, reach out! We’re here to support you in the best way we can. We offer in person training in Toronto and Collingwood and virtual personal training everywhere. Reach out today to set up a free consultation and mini-workout!