Keeping in good shape
Throughout my life, I've always tried to keep in good shape by exercising and maintaining a healthy diet. Some physical activities can be challenging for me. But as the old saying goes, where there's a will there's a way.
Riding a bike
As a child, I longed to ride a bike like my siblings. I still remember my excitement when my parents gave me my first bike for Christmas. It had a little bell and a basket attached to the handle bars. When I went blind, riding a bike presented something of a challenge. My mum tied a short rope to the corner of our clothesline. By holding on to the rope, I learned to control the direction of my bike and was soon riding at full speed. My Dad even constructed a small jump for me!
I also wanted to play basketball with my friends. So my parents rigged up a wire along the fence at home and also one at school. Trailing my hand along the wire, I'd run up and down the fence while bouncing the basketball. When shooting for goal, a family member or friend would line me up.
Tennis was another pastime. A tennis ball was tied to a cord that hung from the carport roof. I'd hit the ball against the wall with my racket, imagining that I was playing in the Australian Open!
During my teenage years, I was obsessed with horses. I thoroughly enjoyed learning to ride, and had dressage lessons with the organisation, Riding Develops Abilities. Volunteers positioned around the ring called out letter names, so I could judge my position in the arena.
I also liked to swim. After my weekly lesson, I'd stay on for a couple of hours and swim laps. To keep myself in a straight line, I maintained regular contact with the lane rope. Once, in a swimming race at school, I veered so much that I probably would've swum twice the distance as my fellow competitors! Not surprisingly, I came last.
Nowadays, I go for regular walks with my seeing-eye dog, Zora. I often ride my exercise bike also. To help tone my body, I perform a series of aerobic and resistance exercises.
Making exercise fun
Physical activity can be boring. To make the experience more enjoyable, I mix things up a bit, never sticking to the same exercise routine for too long. While exercising, I listen to audio books, music, or a television program.
I'm now learning to dance. While this activity is not physically demanding, it's helping me to develop better posture, balance and confidence. I'm no longer afraid to move my hips on the dance floor!
Benefits of exercise
Research shows that exercising for half-an-hour, five days a week can have a huge impact on our overall health. It reduces the risk of developing life-threatening diseases; it strengthens our mental functioning; and improves our weight. In my experience, physical activity helps to clear my head and boost my sense of well-being.
Exercise is an important part of my daily routine. Sometimes I find that it's difficult to get started, especially if I'm tired or busy. But making the effort is always very worthwhile.