Keeping fit with low vision

Is exercise better when you do it in the company of someone else? Longstanding client Narelle Spaans thinks so. Narelle is blind and has been visiting the VisAbility Exercise Clinic enjoying exercise physiology and improving her fitness.

She recently encouraged her husband, Matt, who also has an NDIS plan, to get involved as well. The two of them, both in their mid-forties, now attend twice weekly sessions. They love having a common goal of getting stronger and fitter under the guidance of Exercise Physiologist Felicity, and Therapy Assistant, Kane. 

Narelle holds a weight ball, high over her head. Sitting next to her is her partner Matt also holding a weight ball along with Kane.

Staying healthy as husband and wife

“It was my dad who first encouraged me to take up regular exercise. I was already receiving assistive technology instruction at VisAbility and learning Braille. I knew about the Exercise Clinic and I’ve always enjoyed walking, so I joined up,” she explains.

Felicity and Kane sets Narelle some targeted goals and she’s approached her exercise physiology sessions with enthusiasm.

“It’s been great to see Narelle develop her aerobic capacity through plenty of cardiovascular exercise. She’s really persevered and her overall health and well-being, along with balance, has improved” Kane explains.

Matt and Narelle sitting next to each other in an outdoor areaDuring the COVID lockdown, Narelle started taking part in sessions via Zoom. Her husband Matthew saw how her fitness levels were improving and expressed an interest in joining her. He’s incorporated the sessions into his NDIS plan.

Now the two of them participate together. 

“We both look forward to our twice weekly sessions; it’s really very social and is helping to improve our confidence with others,” says Matthew.

Couple motivation

Many people are well aware of the benefits of regular exercise, but research also suggests that it can improve bonding. Sharing a common goal also builds strength within the relationship. Couples who exercise with each other are more likely to maintain a healthy lifestyle together. Plus, by coming to the Clinic together, they are motivating each other.

“It definitely increases our happy hormones. While we both enjoy exercise, we prefer working with different exercise equipment. I like the cross-trainer and the bike, while Matthew likes building up his muscle mass to improve his upper strength so he enjoys lifting weights,’’ says Narelle.

Narelle and Matthew met thirteen years ago at a social club and soon realised they had shared common interests.

“Narelle was playing pool, and I walked over to her and we started talking. It went from there, and we got married in 2013. We both love animals, enjoy cooking and going for walks together. Narelle’s eyesight has deteriorated so I lead her on our walks, but it’s nice having someone to share life’s experiences,’’ explains Matthew.

Narelle and Matt in the exercise clinic on the exercise bikes with another client in the backgroundNow the two of them also participate in Kane’s meditative yoga which they do from the comfort of their own home via Zoom. This is on top of their twice weekly visits to the Clinic. Both say they find it very calming and relaxing.

Would they recommend participating in exercise physiology to others? The answer is a resounding yes.

“We need someone to spur us on and challenge us and that’s exactly what Kane does.’’

Kane’s tips for improving your fitness

  • Set yourself a regular time to exercise and improve your fitness
  • Choose exercises you prefer doing. This will help to keep you motivated
  • Enlist a buddy to support you and surround yourself with active people
  • Set goals in areas of your interest to assist in motivating you to achieve them.
  • Remember, exercise is not about looking good, it’s about improving your physical and mental capacity day-to-day.

Exercise physiology can be funded through your NDIS plan, talk to our Customer Experience Team by completing the form at the bottom of this page and find out more about how Exercise Physiology can help you.