Staying Healthy and Fit Can Be Easier Than You Think
By Amy Lynn Smith
Editor’s note: Are you looking to better your health and fitness as a person who is blind or low vision? Gather counsel from Anisio Correia, a semi-retired vision rehabilitation therapist who is blind. Learn how he stays healthy and fit as a person who is blind by walking with his wife, his preferred fitness routine.
The way to stay healthy and fit at any age is to regularly exercise and eat nutritious meals. With May as Older Americans Month, and National Senior Health & Fitness Day on May 25, it’s an ideal time to check in with yourself: Are you staying as healthy as you can?
Anisio Correia is one of the countless people who are blind/ low vision who have found ways to stay active. It’s important to find an activity you’ll enjoy so you stick with it, and Anisio is partial to walking every day. When it’s not too hot in Florida where he lives, he walks outside with his wife as both exercise and a chance to converse. He also has a treadmill for the hotter months, which he labeled with braille since he’s been blind since birth. In addition, he enjoys swimming in their backyard pool.
“I’d like to be around for a while,” says the 70-year-old vision rehabilitation consultant about his dedication to wellness. “My parents both died at about my age and there’s a family history of high blood pressure and heart issues. I have a daughter who is 25, and I want to be around to see grandkids.”
No slowing down in retirement
Anisio has been working in the blind and low vision field for decades. In fact, he and two colleagues, including Anne Yeadon, a well-known figure in the field of rehabilitation, established a nonprofit organization called AWARE (Associates for Worldwide Action, Rehabilitation, and Education), which has disbanded. One of the major projects of the organization was the original VisionAware website, later taken over by American Foundation for the Blind and now under the stewardship of the APH Connect Center.
Anisio has been a vision rehabilitation therapist for about 30 years, working with organizations around the country. Although he’s officially retired, he still works as a consultant, including being part of VisionServe Alliance’s Aging & Vision Loss National Coalition. He has recently contributed an article on a pilot project on consumer advocacy training which he is spearheading for the coalition.
“This is something I’ve been doing for a long time,” Anisio says, “and now all of a sudden I’m part of that group myself.”
Finding your fitness groove
In various parts of the country where he and his wife have lived, Anisio has walked to work or to the public transportation using his white cane. He’s comfortable walking on his own, even though it’s an activity he and his wife prefer sharing. Anisio has had to learn various safe routes, though, because there are no sidewalks where he lives. For those who might be nervous about walking on their own, he says many local senior groups get together to walk in malls or parks, which provides companionship.
As a result of COVID-19, Anisio has also seen an increase in online fitness programs that people can follow at home, including chair exercises, floor exercises, yoga, and more. Two resources he suggests are the Hadley Institute and American Council of the Blind, which both offer exercise and fitness workshops.
If you’ve been sedentary for a while, be sure to talk to your doctor about starting an exercise program to make sure you choose one that’s right for your physical abilities.
Eat right, live well
Eating healthy meals and being mindful of your weight is important, too. Anisio weighs himself daily, and, although there are talking scales available, he uses one that connects to his iPhone via Bluetooth so he can check if his weight is stable at the end of the week.
As for making smart food choices, he likes an app called MyFitnessPal, which is fully accessible and lets you enter a comprehensive array of foods so you can track your calories for each meal.
“After doing it for a few weeks, it really gave me a sense of how many calories are in the amount of food I eat and what kind of quantity I should be eating,” he says. “I’ve stopped inputting all the data, but it was really helpful for awareness.”
In many ways, simply being aware of how much exercise you get and what you eat is a smart, simple way to take care of your health. And the healthier you are, the more you can enjoy life to the fullest.