Aerobic exercise means a sustained activity that challenges your heart and lungs. There are many types of aerobic exercise, and these can be done at a pace that matches your abilities. Running is a favorite but may not be possible if your vision makes you feel unsteady or your knees or joints are painful. Cycling is a good choice and can be done in a gym or at home on a stationary bike if your vision does not permit outdoor cycling.
Aerobic dance classes can be fun if you find a class where the routines are not varied too frequently and your visual acuity allows you to see the instructor well. Some types of yoga, as we will discuss later, are aerobic. Even house cleaning or washing the car can be a mini-workout.
Older persons need to exercise in order to combat the decline in flexibility and strength that occurs with age. Many injuries can be prevented if a person is agile and strong. The fractures of osteoporosis (bone thinning) are less likely to occur in individuals who have done weight bearing exercise – this means walking or running or doing something that causes the long bones to carry your weight. Strength building with weights can also combat this condition. Ultimately, your self-sufficiency requires that you be able to manage tasks required in daily routines. This can be even more critical to independence than the ability to drive.
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TYPES OF EXERCISE
There are three main types of exercise. Some types build strength; others focus on endurance; some types emphasize flexibility. Any of these can be considered aerobic. An example of strength building exercise is weight lifting. This type of exercise usually targets certain muscles or muscle groups for development. Strength building exercise should not be done on consecutive days; a day of rest between workouts is necessary to allow for muscles to heal from the workout. Running, cycling, and fast walking, along with cross-country skiing, are examples of endurance building exercises. Flexibility is the goal in most types of dance and yoga, although they also promote endurance and strength. Ideally, an exercise program should include all three types with an aerobic workout three times per week alternating with a program for flexibility or agility.
Recent findings on the benefit of exercise reveal that less is required to obtain the cardiovascular benefits than was previously thought. A recent study showed that post-menopausal women who walked at a moderate rate (three miles per hour) for one hour three times per week had 40 percent less chance of a heart attack than those who did not exercise. You must begin where you are. If you can only walk ten minutes, then do it. Nothing builds faster than the capacity for movement. Even a sedentary person who begins to exercise, will soon start to crave some movement every day. By the way, cleaning out the garage, weeding the garden, and scrubbing floors are all examples of movement. Think of ways to work out while you go about your daily routine. Is it possible to walk to a store or mailbox? Small children will usually get adults outside for walks to the park. Ditto for dogs. Can you borrow a child or a dog to help you work out? The idea in motivating yourself to exercise is to make it enjoyable. If you are a person who loves to exercise and focus on it, so much the better. However, many people need to be tricked into exercising while they are doing something else like watching birds or washing the car.
Now that you know how much more a person with low vision person benefits from exercise than a fully sighted person, let’s get started! Always consult, not only your ophthalmologist, but your general physician before beginning an exercise program. Your age and physical condition may require you to take certain precautions in exercising. Please be prudent. With respect to ARMD, those who have wet ARMD and tend to bleed must be certain to consult their ophthalmologist before undertaking any strenuous exercise for fear of it impacting the retina itself.