January 2008 Issue  Volume 9  Number 1

Letter to the Editor

Much Easier Ways of Exercising

I am a research scientist at the Veterans Administration Research and Development center for Visually Impaired and Blinded Veterans. We are located in Decatur, Georgia, near the Emory University campus. I am blind with just light perception and am also a three-time member of the United States Paralympic team.

When I was an instructor in a variety of rehabilitation centers, I stressed physical fitness to the more than 800 clients I worked with. The usual complaint I received was the inaccessibility of gymnasiums as the reason for not exercising.

Although I have been a member of several gyms over the past twenty years, I still do the majority of my workouts at home! After my last trip to the Paralympic games in Athens, I gave my heavy weights to my teenage nephew and started a different type of regimen. I work out in my garage, and I have a treadmill and exercise bike. I only utilize a set of adjustable dumbbells and an adjustable bench. Add one Olympic barbell and a curl bar and I am still able to actively body build at the age of 43!

I have emphasized that the easiest way for most people to exercise is to walk! You can even walk in your own home or around your neighborhood. I have personally watched four former students transform their bodies in the past two years. One has just lost a total of 50 pounds and she never left her own home! The other former student has an adjustable bench and a set of adjustable dumbbells as well at home. She recently started using the services of a personal trainer, because she wants to take a set of great pictures this year. She is 50 years old, stands 5 feet 8 1/2 inches in height and weighs 140 pounds. She says she looks better in a bikini at 50 than she did at 20.

None of the four visually impaired (all legally blind and women) people that I have seen change their bodies the past two to three years ever dieted. Each made a lifestyle change. One even lost 130 pounds in the process. One more former student finally made the mental change a few months ago. He is 56 years old and has lost eleven pounds in the past two months. His visually impaired wife mostly does her exercising by swimming, but they have decided to give themselves a treadmill at home as a joint Christmas present this year.

I can design a workout regimen with nothing but body-weight, dumbbells, a mat, and an exercise ball, and keep any sighted or visually impaired person in shape. Routinely, when I am travelling, I will do a complete bodyweight workout to take the place of my normal workouts at home. I still believe that the primary reason that most blind or visually impaired people who want to exercise can't is because they think they have to work out with the traditional equipment that sighted people, who are not informed, use as well.

Vincent F. Martin

Atlanta VA Rehab R&D Center of Excellence in Vision Loss

Atlanta V.A. Medical Center

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