Fitness Levels of People with Visual Impairments
Pursuing a fitness program is critical for the health and wellbeing of all individuals. Although research on the physical activity levels of people with visual impairments has been limited, studies have reported that there are lower levels of physical activity and a greater occurrence of obesity among individuals who are visually impaired compared to the general U.S. population (Campbell, Crews, Moriarty, Zack, & Blackman, 1999; Crews & Campbell, 2001). When people with visual impairments do engage in exercise, it is often not at an intensity level that will achieve health-producing benefits (Holbrook, Caputo, Fuller & Morgan, 2009). It is also known that visually impaired individuals who use a cane are often less fit than those using a guide dog. Part of the eligibility process for becoming a guide dog user is to be able to walk for 1 mile.
The current recommendation from the American Heart Association (AHA) is "to perform any moderate-to-vigorous-intensity aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week at 50-85 percent of your maximum heart rate" http://www.americanheart.org . It is a challenge to meet that exercise prescription from the AHA. However, the life-enhancing benefits that a person with a visual impairment will experience can make it all worthwhile.