Just in the U.S., there are over 50 million people living with some sort of disability (that’s around 20% of the entire population). Unfortunately, sports and disabilities are not something we often hear in the same sentence, even though physical activity can help people with disabilities both physically and mentally. Any form of exercise strengthens the heart, builds strong muscles, improves coordination and improves self-esteem.
Luckily, there are various sports adapted for people with disability as well as many recreational programs that allow people to enjoy sports for wellness, social and leisurely reasons. Sports activities also provide people with disabilities with an environment that allows them to develop important life skills. They teach children and adults about teamwork, cooperation, strategic thinking and handling defeats and victories. If all of these benefits from physical activity sound appealing, here are all the ways you can stay active while living with a disability.
Probably the most popular sport among the disabled community is cycling with the use of modified bicycles. For instance, there are various tricycle models that provide the user with improved stability and can be modified with custom-made seats, handlebars, and pedals. If pedaling with lower limbs isn’t possible, hand cycling offers a great solution AND it allows people to cycle from a recline position. Plus, people with hearing or visual impairments can enjoy tandem cycling as a safe way to get plenty of physical exercises.
Golf is another great activity that can be adapted for people with disabilities since it can be performed both standing up or sitting down. There are even adaptive golf carts that can help with body stabilization while swinging the club. Also, there are various different golf grips for clubs that allow you to use the equipment with greater ease and comfort. You can find out more about best golf club grips online and you’ll certainly find something that fits your needs the best. With the growing popularity of golfing among people with disabilities, some centers are even opening golf clinics that teach people how to enjoy golf with various disabilities involving limbs, paralysis, hearing and sight loss and others.
Therapeutic horseback riding or hippo-therapy is a term associated with the use of horses in order to improve the physical, social, sensory and emotional well-being of people with disabilities. These programs are not only super fun, but they also provide good exercise for people who struggle with mobility. Most of these programs are led by certified therapists and instructors who can offer extra advice and professional adaptability tips for horseback riding.
Swimming is one of the best sports you can practice. It’s an amazing cardio and strength exercise that does wonders for the body and mind. Plus, it’s very low impact which means it can be practiced by many people with disabilities including those who are blind and deaf. And, one of the main reasons why swimming is perfect for people with disabilities is the fact that it requires no special equipment, individuals with disabilities can freely participate in events and programs in their area with little to no modification.
If you require something more exciting than swimming, you can engage in other water sports like adaptive canoeing, kayaking, rowing or even rafting. Each individual kayak or canoe can be modified according to the person’s needs (adaptations to body positioning or gripping) which allows them to take part in any paddling event or organization. Additionally, taking up tandem canoeing, kayaking or rafting allows people with all disabilities to participate in these amazing sports and socialize with like-minded people.
Just like regular volleyball, seated volleyball is a very fun and dynamic game that allows people with disabilities to get great exercise and practice all sorts of skills. The net is shorter and the court is smaller, but the rest of the rules are the same and the sport is very competitive and high-paced. So, if that’s something you’re looking for in your physical activity, try it out!
Winter lovers can enjoy all sorts of various adaptive skiing activities in the snow. With the help of adaptive equipment, skiing can be performed sitting down in a bucket seat with handheld outriggers for steering and stability. Tandem skiing is also possible and it allows individuals to ski with the assistance of another person. There are even trained ski guides who can help visually impaired skiers by announcing instructions while skiing beside you.
There are numerous other adaptive sports like archery or shooting that are always good fun and a great reason to go out and get some exercise. Or, you can seek new activities by finding inspiration in other disabled athletes. However, no matter which activity you choose to take part in, it’s important to think outside the box and look for all the available resources that will help you participate and stay fit. With everything from cycling to golfing and skiing, you’ll probably find a sport that calls your name, so give it a try and who knows, you might be a born champion!
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