Living life with a disability can be a challenge. An obstacle some struggle to overcome is how to stay active with a disability. People with disabilities tend to be less active than people without, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a plethora of ways that people with disabilities can stay active throughout their lives without being limited to adaptive sports like wheelchair basketball which, while enjoyable, aren’t always right for everyone. Here are some ways that people of any ability can stay in shape while having fun.
Getting a whole-body workout when you have a disability can be challenging. Taking a swim is as close to a perfect exercise as it gets. Swimming improves cardiovascular health, physical strength, and mental health. Additionally, it’s a low-impact exercise that’s easy on aching muscles and joints. Almost anyone can do it, from amputees and quadriplegics to the visually impaired. While there are paralympic swimming leagues, most people with disabilities don’t need special accommodations to get involved in swimming.
For people with lower body disabilities, paddling can be an incredibly freeing way to leave one’s disability on the shore and explore a unique environment. Most paddlers require few to no modifications to standard paddling equipment, so it’s easy to pick up a canoe, kayak, or raft and get on the water solo or with some friends. And if you need to adjust the seating or add a paddling fixture, it’s easy to DIY the modifications so you don’t have to spend money on an expensive customized boat.
Nervous about getting on the water alone for the first time? Starting off with a partner on a canoe or a tandem kayak is a great way to gain confidence and build upper body strength before you head out on your own.
Find Some Hiking Trails
Nothing beats getting out on the trail for clearing your mind and enjoying the beauty and solitude of nature. People with cognitive disabilities, amputees with prosthetics, and other people who are able to walk and balance can readily wander wooded trails, but did you know that people who use wheelchairs can enjoy hiking too? Recent years have seen the emergence of new hiking chairs for wheelchair users, including an all-terrain wheelchair debuted by Staunton State Park in Colorado and a lever-powered fat-tired wheelchair called the Freedom Chair that’s described as “a mountain bike for your arms.”
Golf is a great excuse to get outside whether you have a disability or not. People with limb loss, cognitive impairment, and other disabilities can enjoy golf without any special adaptations, while others can use adaptive equipment designed to help with grip, tee-up, and swinging. There are even adaptive golf carts that let golfers navigate course terrain and move into shot position.
Hop on a Bike
Bikes are relatively simple machines, which means they’re easy to adjust for a number of disabilities. Minor modifications like supportive footholds can be easily added to a standard bicycle, or you can purchase recumbent tricycles powered by foot or hand. And while adaptive bicycles can be costly, they’re no more expensive than a higher-end road bike. Plus, biking can be a great commuting option for people who can’t or don’t drive.
Even if you need an adaptive bike, don’t think you’ll be limited to biking around the neighborhood. You can find adaptive bicycles designed for road racing, mountain biking, bike touring, and more.
No matter what activity you’re interested in, there’s probably a way you can do it with your disability. If you want to try an activity that’s not mentioned here, look for an adaptive recreation guide for your city or state. You just might discover that there’s not only opportunities, but also a supportive community of people staying active with disabilities.
This is a guest post written by Travis White, Learnfit.org‘s resident foodie. He is fond of writing about food but for this article he is writing as to encourage people , never let a setback hinder from being active and enjoying life.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons