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Blog: “I am fearful of returning to normal activity”

Outdoor sport returns on Monday 29 March and many are excited that the opportunities to be active will increase in coming weeks. However, for many disabled people it’s not always been straight forward to be active during the pandemic. So when outdoor sports restrictions are lifted next week, we are mindful that many need to feel reassured and confident to return at a time that is right for them. Here, wheelchair dancer Adrienne tells us how the pandemic has impacted her daily life, the positives of activities returning but also the challenges ahead.

Adrienne dancing.

Hi I’m Adrienne and my main sporting activities are dancing, swimming and Pilates.  

I have multiple sclerosis and I have been shielding during the pandemic. As you can imagine, I’ve not been out much at all and it’s been very lonely at times.

Before the pandemic I wouldn’t say I was super active but I was doing my thing. I attended Pilates class once a week, I went to my dance classes organised by Step Change Studios and I was learning how to swim without using my legs. Now, this was a real challenge because you need to swim quite deep in the water, which from someone who hated their face being under water was a big challenge but I was pleased with the progress I had made.

My daily life has been a bit different in the pandemic. I’m doing a lot less walking as I’m not going out as much. At the start I did get out to walk just to try and keep fit. However, walking doesn’t really work for me that well because I find it very tiring, and my legs are prone to just give up when they feel like it.

The pandemic has brought a lot of classes to me. I’ve been able to see the people from my tai chi class every Monday and being able to keep in touch with each other has been a real positive for me. I’m also learning Spanish and doing Zumba, which I’ve never done before.

I’ve also taken up a lot of online wheelchair-based activity, so I do worry about whether these will continue virtually after the pandemic. I know I won’t return to my dancing straight away and I am hoping a lot of the classes I’ve been taking part in will stay online. Some of my other virtual classes aren’t local either, and as much as I can drive I probably won’t travel to them as they’re too far.

I am fearful of returning to normal activity because I’m going to be around people. I’m especially worried about crowded places as having been indoors most of the pandemic, I’m not used to being around lots of people or remembering things like social distancing and to not get too close.

Swimming would be nice to get back to. I learned to swim front crawl underwater and swim on my back just under the surface before the first lockdown. However, as much as I am excited to return, I do worry about returning as I cannot get dressed standing up and having to sit down means I am then touching surfaces where other people may have touched. 

Luckily, my mental health has been okay, albeit a bit lonely at times. I’ve been doing wheelchair yoga classes and breathing exercises so that’s helped. I do have a good network of friends too that I keep in touch with over the phone. There’s been so many video calls over the past year and that’s been lovely.

My hope is that as activities return, virtual offerings don’t disappear and instead a blended approach of online and face-face activities carry on.

Watch Adrienne tell us about her story via this video.

Support on staying active

As the sport and activity sector continues adjust to a new normal, there are lots of ways to continue to stay active. If you are not as active as you would like to be, or you know someone who isn't we have complied a list to support you to be active at home.

Visit our get active at home page to find a list of exercise advice, workouts, videos, and activity guides for disabled people.