Ways to Stay Active and Have Fun with a Disability
It is a common misconception that staying active while living with a disability is a chore, full of tedious, unenjoyable activities that only reinforce how limited you are. This simply isn’t true. In fact, those living with disabilities can enjoy many of the same activities that able-bodied folks enjoy. Staying active with a disability is not only possible, but it doesn’t have to be boring and limited.
For those living with a disability, one of the major ways they often feel limited is in feeling confined to the indoors. Getting outdoors and experiencing activities in nature is a great way to break through those barriers.
In the late 90s, new laws went into effect requiring the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management to work to make public lands – parks, nature preserves, trails, and more – more accessible to those with disabilities. This, alongside many advancements in outdoor tech and gear, has made camping, hiking, and backpacking a preferred activity for those with various types of physical disabilities.
Outdoor activities are also recommended for those with developmental disabilities.
“Nature walks provide an opportunity to be out in the open air while learning more about the environment. Scavenger hunts encourage individuals to find and identify things in nature — plants, insects, trees, birds and other wildlife,” says Livestrong. Summer camps, retreats or day camps for adults with IDD offer a range of services from therapeutic horseback riding to vocational courses.
For those with developmental disabilities as well as visual impairment, exploring the great outdoors can be greatly benefitted by the addition of a service dog.
Try something a little extreme
Technology has improved so much in the past few decades that those living with disabilities can now enjoy more “extreme” sports. We’re talking sports like surfing, rock climbing, skiing, and scuba diving. While adaptive sporting equipment like sit-skis have made an activity like skiing accessible to almost anyone, certain activities like scuba diving seem almost more beneficial to those with disabilities than to those without.
“A scuba diver experiences a weightless environment that is like that of an astronaut – without the space suit. In the water, any limitations an individual may have can be adapted easily, as water is a great equalizer. Scuba diving may enhance free movement of a limitation and reduces the force of gravity,” notes The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability.
What this means is that those with physical disabilities may be able to move parts of their body in ways they can’t on land. This sort of thing can provide both a physical and mental boost.
Get social with your sports and activities
Exercise boredom not only stems from mobility limitations, but also from isolation. Nobody says you have to stay active by yourself.
Sports like sled hockey, wheelchair basketball, tennis, soccer, and handball, competitive hand cycling, and more all provide those with disabilities the opportunity to stay active in a group setting. This not only provides fun and competition, but also extra motivation to keep going.
Another activity that can be performed in a group setting or by oneself is yoga. It’s a perfect activity for those with a disability. As Disabled Sports USA puts it, “ is non-competitive, and takes into consideration your physical condition, your age, your ability or disability. Yoga starts wherever you are.”
As someone living with a disability, don’t think that your active routine is limited to stretching and free weights. There’s a whole world of incredibly fun, challenging, and ultimately rewarding activities out there if you know where to look and are willing to make some small to moderate modifications. Get outside, try something extreme, and rely on others to help push you toward your fitness goals.
This blog is brought to you by Travis White. [email protected]
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