By Dan Chalcraft
Even though we’ve passed the winter solstice, the days are still short, and nights are dark. After a day of work coupled with the commute from Vancouver to White Rock, it can be difficult to fit exercise into the daily routine. Having cerebral palsy, I feel it is important to stay active so the muscles don’t become tight and you don’t lose what you’ve already worked on such as getting stronger, improved balanced and coordination. Cerebral palsy affects people in different ways, so it’s understandable that exercise might not be the first option for someone who might be in a wheelchair since it’s difficult to motivate yourself to be active. However, I feel if you have the capability to go for a walk, swim, or play tennis, why not do it?
According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, adults aged 18 to 64 years should have at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. I have cerebral palsy which affects the dexterity in my fingers of my left hand when picking up small objects and I have a weaker left side. In addition, I was born three months premature and weighed one pound and 12 ounces. But now that I am 5’11” and 175 lbs and have the ability to go for a walk, play a game of ultimate Frisbee or go for a run, I’ve learned that the only limits you put on yourself are not getting out there and staying fit. Look to have a positive attitude when approaching exercise whatever activity you do; being active will help you become physically fit and improve your emotional morale.
What can you do?
January is an ideal time for starting a fitness program. Many fitness facilities offer new programs starting in January, such as the Running Room which offers running clinics tailored to different skill levels. The Cerebral Palsy Association of BC takes part in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge each year which includes a half-marathon and a 5 k run, wheel or walk. Training for a half-marathon can take 15-20 weeks or more, so if you’re like me, you’ll want to start training now. Exercise and staying active are anti-ageing remedies for everyone, including those with a disability, as we learned at the CBABC Annual General Meeting. Those with disabilities may have accessible options or may consider other ways to stay fit.