Getting Stronger…

I just learned that obesity has been officially classified as a “disease” by the American Medical Association. While our increasing waistlines have long been referred to as reaching epidemic proportions (no pun intended), the categorization of obesity as a disease is supposed to both raise awareness and funding. Research indicates that as much as 80% of the disabled population is overweight or obese. This number is staggering; it is not surprising.

Pharmaceutical interventions for weight loss yield inconsistent results and are laden with side effects. Weight loss surgery is expensive and risky. Despite the myriad of advances in the field of medicine, the only reliable and consistent treatment for this newly classified disease remains the staple approach: diet and exercise. When the remedy involves physical movement and exertion, individuals with disabilities are at a distinct disadvantage.

Strengthening muscles and maintaining a healthy weight is perhaps more important for those with physical limitations. We are reliant upon various devices, whether they be a wheelchair, braces and crutches or a prosthesis, and their use creates unnatural stress on our body. Staying physically strong helps to minimize the strains that our body experiences on a daily basis.

Thankfully Unlimiters is about overcoming the perceived “disadvantages” of life! Exercising when you have a physical disability may require more creative thinking, but it is certainly not impossible. Concentrating on what you enjoy rather than focusing on what is limited is a great place to start.

I love going for long walks through the neighborhood, which is admittedly an ironic choice of activity since I am a leg amputee. However, I have come to relish the escape and quiet time that walking affords me. Between family and work obligations, walking by myself feels more like a luxury than exercise.

My motivation to walk, which has become my primary source of exercise, is intrinsic because of the enjoyment that it yields. Of course, walking isn’t just for relaxation, I use this opportunity to work on my fitness. If you look through my kitchen junk drawer, you will find a variety of inadequate and broken pedometers.  My altered gait and inconsistent speed apparently throw off the accuracy of most pedometers on the market.

After years of searching I have finally found a pedometer that accurately measures my steps. I absolutely love my Fitbit! This tiny little device packs a powerful punch with its features and ease of use. Now when I walk I am able to measure not only my distance in steps, but also my calorie expenditures. Now all of my fitness information is just a tap away!

I have been using the Fitbit for several months, and I have been impressed. My altered gait and limping does not impact this device. I even went for a small walk without my leg, just utilizing crutches, and the Fitbit continued to maintain its accuracy. This is the only pedometer that I have ever used that is not thrown off by gait deviations, significant limping or assistive devices. The fact that this pedometer even measures steps achieved with full crutch use is remarkable!

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