A woman is lifting weights at a gym. There is a poster in front of her with an eye on it.

Helping Our Eyes Through Exercise and Physical Activity

I went skiing yesterday. Loved it! I am a pretty mediocre skier but I love being on the mountain on a cold, crisp day with a blue sky and the sun glistening on the white snow.

The importance of protecting your eyes while skiing

Yes, I wore my sunglasses. I know snow reflects a LOT of light. I just looked up “sun glare on snow” and fell down a science rabbit hole. According to Wikipedia, albedo is a measure of the reflection of solar radiation (read “light”) from a surface. The albedo of the sun on the snow is 0,9. For charcoal, it is about 0.4. Slightly over twice as much glare.1

Alrighty then. Learn something new every day. But that is not why I started this page. I started this page to talk about visual impairment and sports.

Accomodationg for skiers with special needs

As long as those bad eyes are in a head attached to a fairly functional body, visually impaired folks can do sports. The place we were skiing, Jack Frost, has a special program for the blind. If you google adaptive ski programs you come up with lists of dozens of ski areas accommodating skiers with special needs. Other places in Pennsylvania include Camelback, Whitetail and Liberty as well as a number more.

I have no idea about cost or quality. I have never used any of the adaptive services. I cannot make any specific recommendations. I just know they are offered. If you are interested, check them out.

Other sports for the visually impaired

Besides skiing, the visually impaired can engage in many other sports. I have done Zumba and yoga for years. If we ever get snow, I plan on cross-country skiing. Swimming, riding my bike and kayaking are all on the agenda for my summer.

But don’t take my word for it. The sightandsound.com site has an article listing ten sports for the visually impaired.2 To my list, they add things like table tennis and golf. They also suggest mountaineering and rowing!

Do you like to bowl? There is a blind bowler organization you can join. You might even get good enough to bowl in tournaments!

Phyiscal activity is good for us in so many ways

Physical activity such as that that we get with sports is good for us. If you need to improve your appetite or your sleep, exercise through sports will do it for you. Want to expand your social circle? Engaging in sports will do that for you, too.

Mental health benefits

There are also great benefits to your mental health. According to the Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine in the United Kingdom, the role of physical activity and sports in mental health is great. They suggest depression and anxiety can be reduced by 20 to 30% simply through regular exercise alone.3

Sports can feel empowering

Also, exercise and success at sports can be empowering. Vision loss is experienced by many as coming with a diminution of power. Sports can help you get some of that back.

Getting involved in sports does not have to mean becoming an athletic “animal.” Tandem biking and chair yoga are just as legitimate for some as powerlifting is for others.

...and, by the way, if you want to lift - power or otherwise - weight lifting is a legitimate sport and is open to the visually impaired.

Remember, sports are not just for kids. They are definitely not just for the fully sighted. Now, go play!

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