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An exercise in living

Bernadette Lancefield

I try to keep in good shape by exercising and eating healthily. Some physical activities can be hard for me. But I try not to let this stop me. When I was a child, I learnt to ride a bike, play basketball and other sports although I was blind. My mum and family and friends helped me. Today I go for regular walks with my seeing-eye dog. I also ride my exercise bike. Exercise is an important part of my daily routine.

Posted by: Bernadette Lancefield, on 21/03/13

Rider on a horse in an arena

I thoroughly enjoyed learning to ride, and had dressage lessons with the organisation, Riding Develops Abilities.

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!

Basketball

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

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!

Horse-riding

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.

Swimming

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.

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Posted by: Graham Clements, Wangaratta 25/03/2013 at 11:00am

Great to hear that your disability has not stopped you exercising, but it has meant that you have had to adapt. My disabilities rarely interfere with my exercise routine. I know both my physical and mental health would be in much worse shape if I did not swim and lift weights.

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