For the physically disabled, fitness is key

Mon Mar 1, 2010 8:30am EST
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - When Jothy Rosenberg was told after losing a leg and part of a lung to cancer that he would not survive, the teenager went to Utah and skied for 100 days straight.

It was followed by swimming, white water rafting, water skiing, and biking.

Now 36 years later, Rosenberg who is healthy and thriving, has founded six start-up tech companies, earned a PhD and become a grandfather.

"Being told I had zero chance of survival created a chip on my shoulder," said Rosenberg, whose new book, "Who Says I Can't," chronicles how he used endurance athletics to build self-esteem, resilience and strength.

"Fitness was crucial," said Rosenberg, an above-the-knee amputee. "I discovered if I focused harder than my able-bodied compatriots, then I could get good as them."

"Self confidence is sort of like trust. It takes a huge amount of work to build up and almost nothing to tear down. Cancer will do it to you, disability will certainly do it to you," he said. "Once you start building it back, you've got a base to build more."

Rosenberg said he never fails to keep up with his workout. He swims about five miles a week, goes to a spin class twice a week and also enjoys cycling.

For the last 17 years he has swum from Alcatraz to San Francisco to raise money for charity, and he works with the non-profit AccessSportAmerica to bring high challenge sports to the disabled.   Continued...

<p>Jothy Rosenberg, author of "Who Says I Can't," competes in the mile-and-one-half Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco in this handout photo. REUTERS/Handout</p>