For people living with a physical disability (cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis), getting outside and exploring nature is a task that requires plenty of planning. While able-bodied people do these things without even thinking, people with disabilities need to seek out accessible accommodation and invest in adaptive equipment. Pitching a tent or hiking up a hill is easy for some, yet almost impossible for others. However, spending time in nature and enjoying sights, smells and sounds of the outdoor world is something everyone can and should do. So, here are some easy yet fun ways people with physical disabilities can enjoy the great outdoors.
Why you should go out
While spending time outside is certainly fun, that’s not the only reason why people with disabilities should spend more time in the great outdoors. According to research, many important mental and physical health benefits can come out from being active outside and observing nature. For instance, just five minutes of outdoor time can result in a significant mood boost and improvements in self-esteem, mood, and depression. Being active for a few minutes outside can also give you a necessary dose of vitamin D that keeps you safe from infections, provides you with energy, keeps your bones stronger and helps with depression. All of this means that you don’t need to run marathons or spend hours hiking mountains in order to reap benefits—access to a park, forest or a river is all you need!
Opt for hiking
Hiking today is more accessible than ever before. Most parks, especially state and national parks have at least some trails that are accessible for people in a wheelchair or those who use a walker. National Parks in the US are obliged by law to have these practical trails so everyone can get a taste of nature. Even these paved trails or shorter trails go straight through natural areas so you can really enjoy intact nature, fresh air and sunshine.
Camping is something we should all be doing, no matter if you’re 100% able-bodied or live with any level of disability. Spending days in a row in nature provides people with a more immersive experience and helps us develop a better bond with nature and reap more health benefits. Most camps today are accessible and equipped with things like space for mobility, accessible fixtures, non-sloping tent platforms, parking space and other things that help inclusivity. So, if you want to have a fun camping trip, ensure your location is accessible by checking their website or giving them a call. Also, if you’re new to camping, make sure to learn a thing or two about gear instead of just going there with only a change of clothes and some water. So make sure to check the informative Gear We Are website that offers dozens of great gear buying guides. Read up on them and you’ll soon become a true outdoor expert for everything from tents to backpacks and best hiking shoes!
Get on the water
Paddle sports are quickly gaining popularity among people of all levels of ability. Getting on the water is giving people newfound freedom and independence, especially to those depending on the wheelchair. One great thing about paddle sports is that they can be practiced on a lake, river, stream or ocean, but calm waters of a river or lake are the best for people with mobility issues. In calm waters, kayaks and rafts are quite stable and can easily be adapted for people with disabilities. Things like outriggers can provide better stability and prevent them from sinking while adapted paddles provide better grip and easier handling.
Hop on a bike
Cycling is an amazing activity accessible to many people with all kinds of disabilities. The reason why cycling is so popular is that it’s a low-impact activity that allows many levels of adaptability. For instance, you can find different types of specially-designed bikes most popular being tricycles. This adapted bike has three wheels which eliminate the need for balancing. They can also be fitted with foot plates for easier pedaling. Tandem bikes are also great for people who have trouble steering or pedaling because the other person can easily take over. Hand-powered cycles work just like standard bikes, except pedals are replaced with handles that also steer. All in all, wherever you are, you can always rely on your bike to provide you with a nice day outside no matter whether you’re going somewhere further outdoor or just to your local park.
If you love winter, there are many amazing things people of all mobility levels can enjoy. There are adaptable sleds perfect for coming down the slopes as well as special sit-down skis compatible with ski lifts. There’s no better activity to enjoy plenty of fresh air and have an exciting day full of adventure! Your physical mobility shouldn’t stop you from enjoying nature and its gifts. So, go outside to reap mental, physical and emotional benefits and have a lot of fun. Don’t let your disability be your anchor!
Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-on-black-folding-wheelchair-2026764/