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Breaking down barriers to staying active: Oxfordshire Association for the Blind

Posted: Wed, 06 May 2020 13:31

Breaking down barriers to staying active: Oxfordshire Association for the Blind

At Active Oxfordshire, we're passionate about breaking down barriers to sport and physical activity. With a national lockdown in place and significant disruption to everyday life, this is more important than ever. We're very grateful to Nathan Tree from Oxfordshire Association for the Blind for sharing his inspirational advice and top tips in our latest blog:

Living with sight loss often puts up barriers when it comes to being active. But when coupled with social isolation keeping us all at home and social distancing limiting how people can be guided, it can feel like an impossibility.

As an avid Blind Ice Hockey player myself, having my schedule cancelled hit me hard. I am used to training at least twice a week and going to the gym in between. The lockdown has also meant that my annual trip to the Canadian National Blind Ice Hockey Tournament in Toronto was postponed until further notice. As this is my passion, I started the lockdown struggling to be motivated in maintaining my fitness for the future.

The government guidance states that we are allowed to leave the house once a day for exercise but because social distancing is in effect, it can be very hard to do this alone. I try to go out walking/ running once a day and am fortunate enough that my partner can be there to guide me and tell me when to avoid other people. I appreciate that this may not be possible for all, so I have created some tips for exercising alone in public:

Getting active in public

  • Use a visual aid such as a symbol cane or blind running vest so people know you may not be able to see or avoid them.
  • Stick to areas you know well.
  • Try to go at less busy times.
  • See if you can go with someone who can guide you at a safe distance.

Staying active at home

There are plenty of exercises you can do in the comfort of your own home without the need for specialist equipment. You could take a leaf from Captain Tom Moore's book and walk laps of your garden, or do what I have done and create weights using heavier items in the house such as a money box full of coins or some water bottles.

The Oxfordshire Association for the Blind partners with Jessamy Chanel Yoga to deliver online chair yoga each Friday at 10am using Zoom. This is a low impact exercise that is available free and adaptable for all ages and ability levels. Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/events/1337475569973892/.

Audio described workout programs available online

https://www.metroblindsport.org/staying-active-at-home/

https://britishblindsport.org.uk/stay-in-work-out/

The British Blind Sport first steps program is also a great way to get children exercising at home:

https://britishblindsport.org.uk/firststeps/

To anyone with a visual impairment who finds it hard to get active, is just starting out or is inactive at the moment, I'd advise you to use the resources available, try a range of activities, see what works for you and – most of all - keep trying.

Tags: Blog, Physical Activity