Athletes with disabilities will face some additional challenges when practicing sports but that doesn’t mean that outdoor sports for the disabled are out of the question. There are many options for getting some fresh air and exercise that disabled athletes can choose from for their next outing. Adjusting to disability can be made easy by a few ingenious ideas when taking part in sporting events.

Very few outdoor activities used to be available for disabled people in the past but that has changed significantly over the last couple of decades. Creative solutions and technological advances have made it so that disabled athletes can now engage in a wide variety of sports and outdoor activities. Pushing yourself to stay active and to continue trying new things is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude.

Becoming as independent as possible is another important aspect of dealing with the everyday challenges that people living with a disability encounter. Mobility is essential and a variety of companies excel at providing the best mobility equipment that leads to independence. Keeping yourself engaged and organising your routines so that you make the most out of each day will help you achieve your goals and remain focused and positive.

Contents

A. Learning to Live With Your Disability

B. Leisure and Outdoor Activities for the Disabled

1. Riding for the Disabled

2. Fishing for the Disabled

3. Cycling and for the disabled

4. Team Sports

5. Rafting and Kayaking

6. Adaptive Skiing and Snowboarding

7. Other Sports

C. Accessing Adaptive Sports and Disabilities Resources

1. Increasing Your Mobility and Independence

2. Getting the Funds and Equipment

3. Finding Inclusive Activities and Sports

D. Striving For an Active Lifestyle

A. Learning to Live With Your Disability

Living with a disability is challenging and it can take time to adjust to new situations. It’s vital to allow yourself the time to process your circumstances and surroundings. Some obstacles that you will face will be demanding so equipping yourself with the right attitude, support system, and tools can make a huge difference. Ask your family and friends for help when you need it and strive to keep yourself organised to the best of your abilities as it can help considerably reduce your stress levels.

Get in touch with support organisations and groups that specialise in helping disabled people. Not only will speaking to other disabled individuals help you stay positive and motivated, organisations and aid programs can help provide you with care, equipment, and additional resources. Make the most out of the opportunities that you have at your disposal. Many cities have charity or government programs that help cover disabled individuals’ self-care needs.

You may be able to live more independently by utilising the services that these programs provide. Try to stay as active as possible. Do as much as you can for yourself and don’t hesitate to use all of the strategies that are available to you. Set realistic goals for yourself and work to achieve them. Taking on a new physical activity, finding a hobby that you love, or staying up-to-date on the latest events and news will help you remain engaged and will encourage you to interact with others.

Recent statistics show that only seventeen per cent of disabled people were born with their disability so many disabled individuals have had to adapt to living with their disability as adults. Adjusting to the new challenges that a disability poses takes time and it is important to allow yourself to emotionally and mentally process this adjustment. Experiencing grief and seeking support from therapists, family members, and friends will help you cope and will encourage you to adapt to the situation.

B. Leisure and Outdoor Activities for the Disabled

It’s no secret that people with higher levels of physical fitness have a decreased risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. However, a 2010 study has shown that 55% of the adults living with a disability reported no leisure-time physical activity. Only 36% of people without a disability reported the same.

While such data shows that people with disabilities are less physically active than people without disabilities, it is important to be aware of the health concerns associated with the lack of physical fitness, as disabled people are at risk for the same chronic health issues. They are also exposed to risks of developing secondary health issues related to their primary disability. Many of these conditions can be prevented and eliminated by increasing physical activity.

Conditions such as obesity, fatigue, deconditioning, social isolation, and anxiety can be improved by taking part in physical activities. You can consult your health care provider in order to determine what amount and type of physical activity is beneficial in your case. There are many options to choose from and you can build your own exercise routine by choosing sports that you love and trying new activities that you think you will enjoy.

1. Riding for the Disabled

Horse riding is not only therapeutic, it’s also a lot of fun. Learning something new is always challenging so you know you won’t get bored with this activity. Some of the benefits of horse riding include:

· Improving your posture.

· Improving coordination and balance

· Muscle relaxation and reduced muscle spasms.

Learning to ride will not only help you regain mobility, it will also give you a confidence boost as this is one achievement worth bragging about. The joy that comes from riding is rewarding in itself but, if you want to take it to the next level, competitions are also a possibility you can consider. Carriage driving is another great outdoor activity that you can try, particularly if riding is not the best option for you.

2. Fishing for the Disabled

Fishing is a very popular pastime for members of the disabled community and it is easily accessible as well as relatively inexpensive. More than 5400 disabled people in the United Kingdom have a fishing licence and 1000 of them fish competitively. The British Disabled Angling Association has shown that this leisure activity offers a sense of achievement and social inclusion. Fishing also improves motor skills and attention spans.

Aside from being a relaxing and rewarding activity, fishing also offers you variety. Sports fishing, game fishing, and sea fishing are alternatives available to disabled anglers in the U.K. Whichever variation you enjoy the most, fishing can provide a great opportunity for disabled people to spend time outdoors in a healthy environment, so it is an activity worth considering.

3. Cycling and for the disabled

There are several types of adaptive cycles that allow disabled people to enjoy the beneficial effects of this sport. It’s a lot of fun and offers the sense of empowerment and satisfaction that independent mobility generates. There are many innovative bicycle designs that can cater to a wide range of requirements and the versatility of these cycles helps many disabled people enjoy the fun activity.

When it comes to great sports for the disabled, cycling is a very popular choice. From hand crank bikes and side-by-sides to trikes and tandems, there are many variations to consider. The fact that bicycles can be customised is another important factor, as it is easier to design a bicycle or tricycle that is tailored to your body and your needs.

Adaptive cycling is a concept centered on modifying and adapting bicycles to suit the needs of an individual rider. Significant developments have been made over the past decade in the research for new adaptive cycling equipment. Here are just a few of the options that you can look into when trying to find the best bicycle for you.

Tandem bikes are a great cycling solution for partially sighted and blind users as they can ride with a sighted partner. Besides being twice the fun, tandem bicycles are also a good option for people with feet or leg problems as riding or getting on and off the bike can be facilitated by the partner.

Tandem Bicycles and Tricycles

As adaptive cycling has progressed in the last few years, you can find specially designed tandem bikes for disabled riders. These bikes typically offer multiple options for adjusting the seats and wheels as well as features such as electric engines and pedals for additional power assistance.

Tandem tricycles are also an alternative worth considering especially if one of the riders has problems with their stability and movement. Adaptive tricycles provide increased stability and comfort for both riders. These bikes can also provide electric engines for easier pedalling.

Side-by-Side Tandem Bikes

Side-by-side or companion tandem bikes are often the ideal choices for people with mobility difficulties. Side-by-side bikes allow users to cycle with support from a partner and many adaptive tandem bikes offer additional power options such as electrical pedals.

These tricycles also provide accessibility as users do not have to step through in order to get on the seats. Both riders can pedal the bike and adaptive designs usually have adjustable cushioned seats and armrests that are more comfortable.

Cycle trailers are also available if you require a bike that several riders can enjoy at the same time. These trailers are a family-friendly addition to regular side-by-side trikes as they allow more users to ride together.

They can be connected to adaptive side-by-side tricycles so that four people can cycle at once. The driver is usually the one that controls the steering and the brakes. All of the riders can pedal along but some designs also allow the option of setting different pedalling speeds for each individual rider and of deciding which users pedal.

Adaptive Tricycles

Adaptive tricycle designs can cater to a wide variety of needs. You can get frames with low step through for easier access and seating with a back support to ensure a stable sitting position. Adjustable seat height and seat angle designs can help you customise your trike in order to have a comfortable ride. Options such as toe clips, straps, and seat belts can provide good back and foot fixation.

Tricycles are a good alternative for people that have trouble keeping their balance and want to cycle comfortably. Adaptive designs offer additional support and customisable features to fit the requirements of each rider. Electric engines can be fitted to these trikes in order to provide riders with the option of a power assist or integral power.

Hand Cycles

One of the biggest developments in adaptive cycling has been the hand cycle or the hand crank. This innovative design allows riders with a lower-limb mobility impairment to power their tricycles by hand. Disability sports and disabled sports events have become increasingly popular and many famous athletes with disabilities have proven that where there’s a will, there’s a way. Racing hand cycles are used by famous disabled athletes worldwide to compete in these events.

Because of the popularity of these designs, there are now mass-produced hand cycles for almost any rider. Adjustments can be made to most models and additional equipment can be used for extra support but hand cycles are designed specifically for riders that have lower-limb mobility issues so they will usually be well-suited for the cyclist’s needs. Tandem models are also available so there is a wide range of options to choose from.

4. Team Sports

Team sports are a great way to socialise and get exercise so it’s no wonder that disabled team sports such as goal ball or wheelchair basketball have been very popular in recent years. Modern sports wheelchair designs and adaptive sports equipment have made it possible for more athletes with physical disabilities to join the fun.

Organisations such as the Disabled Athletes Sports Association or the Athletes with Disabilities Network are great information sources when trying to find team sports to take part in. There are many options to consider and you’re bound to find an activity that you’ll enjoy doing.

Goal Ball

Goal ball is one of the sports included in the Paralympic Games and it is one of only a few sports in these games that only has one classification. All of the Paralympic players must have a visual impairment in order to participate. However, black-out masks are worn by all players to ensure that there is a level playing field. A volleyball court without the central net is fitted with goals at each end. Two teams consisting of three players each protect the goals from a ball that is thrown back and forth across the field.

Duct tape is used to help the players guide themselves on the field and a bell is placed inside the ball so that team members can hear it. The crowd remains silent during matches so that the bell can be heard. Goal ball is played in matches of two 10-minute halves and it is a group activity that visually impaired people can really enjoy.

Although it is traditionally played indoors, you can definitely have fun with this game on any soft surface such as grass or sand as long as you get creative with the duct tape replacements. Not only is it great exercise but it can also encourage team building as the players need to be synchronised in order to defend their goal.

Wheelchair Team Sports

It is impossible to discuss disabilities in sports without exploring the wide variety of wheelchair sports that are available to athletes with physical impairment in the lower limbs. Games such as basketball, tennis, fencing, rugby, and curling have all been adapted for wheelchair users and are now included in the Paralympic Games.

Additional wheelchair-friendly sports include archery, table tennis, and shooting. Sitting volleyball, rowing, golf, or sailing can also be great alternatives for people with lower limb physical impairment. Wheelchair sports, however, include the wheelchairs in the mix so no additional preparations are required to take part in them.

5. Rafting and Kayaking

Anything involving a boat is bound to be fun! Rafting and kayaking can be exhilarating and versatile sports that a wide range of athletes can take part in. Para-canoe has just become part of the Paralympic Games and the sport seems to be gaining popularity within the community. Kayaking and rafting are interactive outdoor activities that people of all ages can enjoy, so they will also work well as family outings.

If the paddling equipment requires adaptations several options are available to users. Both these sports offer recreational and competitive opportunities and have beneficial effects on the participants. Besides the obvious plus of the exercise that you get paddling away down the river, there’s also the relaxation that comes with enjoying the outdoors and having fun with others.

6. Adaptive Skiing and Snowboarding

Athletes with lower limb impairments, visual impairments, or other disabilities can use special crutches, skis, and snowboards, or prosthetics in order to join their families and friends on the mountains. Specially trained instructors can provide lessons tailored to the requirements of each person and teach beginners how to best use the equipment that works for them. Assistants can also accompany more experienced skiers with disabilities on the slope.

Although skiing might seem difficult to undertake there are many adaptive equipment options that allow disabled athletes to enjoy this winter sport. There are several programs that specialise in adaptive skiing and snowboarding and can provide lessons, instructors, and equipment to get disabled people on the slopes and ready to go.

7. Other Sports

There are several other sports that disabled people can take part in and the easiest way to find a great new activity that suits your requirements is to draw some inspiration from other disabled athletes. Activities such as archery and shooting are always great recreational options that encourage you to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors. Mini-golf and golf can be family-fun and easily accessible alternatives as well.

Swimming and scuba diving are not only fun, they are brilliant ways to exercise that you can enjoy outdoors. Swimming is also a very versatile sport that almost anyone can take part in with the help of a few adjustments. Water skiing has also become a popular adaptive sport in recent years thanks to the new developments in adaptive equipment for this thrilling activity.

Regardless of the activity that you choose, it’s important to keep an open mind and look for available resources to help get you there. Whether it’s hiking, rock climbing, rowing, or hockey, there are ways to adapt to a wide variety of outdoor sports. Explore more options so that you can find the right fit for you.

C. Accessing Adaptive Sports and Disabilities Resources

Getting exercise and having an active lifestyle is important for everyone but disabled people are faced with some added challenges when it comes to certain activities. Regardless of what your disability is, there are resources that can help you improve several aspects of your daily life such as mobility and independence.

Participating in sports is immensely beneficial not only for our bodies but also for our minds, and you shouldn’t hesitate to use all of the resources that are available to you in order to access the equipment, programs, and activities that you need. There are several organisations, governmental and private grants, foundations, and adaptive sports programs that focus on helping disabled people become more independent and lead active lives. Here are just some of the resources that you might be able to use.

1. Increasing Your Mobility and Independence

The first step to leading an active life is making sure that you are as independent as possible and there are several programs that you can look into in order to achieve that goal. You have the right to receive financial aid if you are disabled. You can apply for State Disability Insurance or Social Security Disability Insurance. Some of the existing government aids can be directed towards helping you increase your mobility and independence.

There are several additional government resources that may be eligible for depending on your disability and your requirements. You can read more about the available financial help that the government provides here. Getting equipment to increase your mobility will not only help you become more independent, it will also make it easier for you to participate in some physical activities. There are also several organisations and support groups that can help you reach your goals.

2. Getting the Funds and Equipment

Adaptive sports equipment and activities can be costly but there are several organisations that can help you with funding, counselling, and support. You can find a grant or foundation that provides the services you need, just find the right fit for you. Here are some of the available resources:

Awards for All

Awards for All is an organisation that offers funding to community-based projects across the UK. It aims to improve local life for people and communities. You can read more about the guidelines and the projects that the organisation supports here.

The Adam Millichip Foundation

The Adam Millichip Foundation helps disabled people to participate in sport by providing financial grants for different costs associated with the activities that they want to take part in. The grants can be used to purchase adaptive sports equipment such as hand cycles, to pay for horse riding lessons with specially trained instructors, or to cover other expenses associated with the sport. You can visit the foundation’s website and apply for funding here.

Variety Club

Variety is a charity that is dedicated to improving children’s lives. It offers equipment grants for disabled children and for organisations. You can read more about how to apply for a grant and about their guidelines here.

The Family Fund

Another charitable organisation that provides grants for anything that relates to the needs of disabled children. The Family Fund also has contracts with other relief organisations and may be able to get you additional resources. You can find out more about their grants here.

The Santander Foundation

This foundation provides a series of grants to help people develop skills in order to counter social isolation and encourage better communication. They provide mobility grants as well as training for parents with impaired children. You can click here in order to find out more about the application process and eligibility criteria that the grants have.

Sport England’s Get Equipped Grant

This grant aims to equip disabled people with the equipment they need in order to take part in a wide range of sports. You can find out more about the eligibility criteria and about the funds available by visiting the page here.

The Dickie Bird Foundation

The Dickie Bird Foundation offers grants to disadvantaged children 16 and younger. The grants are specifically designed to pay for sports equipment that young people need in order to improve their chances inside and outside sport. The grant is for individual children only and you can read more about the application process and the available funding here.

Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It

The Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It Club is committed to helping grassroots sports clubs to develop and offer inclusive access for both disabled and non-disabled people. The Club’s Fund offers several services to help sports clubs achieve this goal and provides grants in order to financially aid clubs in this endeavor. You can read more about the DBA Club’s programmes, services, and grants here.

The Caudwell Children Foundation

The Caudwell Children Foundation offers several grants to help improve children’s lives. One of these grants is the Enable Sport fund, which aims to provide funding for specialist equipment that disabled athletes require. You can visit the foundation’s webpage here to find out more about the grants that they offer.

The SF Charity

The SF Charity aims to offer financial assistance to severely disabled people of all ages in order to help them gain access to equipment and services that will improve their lives. They help individuals as well as groups and you can read more about the donations that they provide by clicking here.

The Ready Charity

The Ready Charity is dedicated to helping disabled kids stay fit through sport and engage in recreational activities that encourage an active and healthy lifestyle. They offer funding and support for disabled kids that need equipment or want to take part in inclusive physical activities. You can visit their website here in order to get more information about the services that they offer.

The Richard Overall Trust

The Richard Overall Trust is dedicated to helping young disabled persons with financial support so that they can participate and progress their chosen sport. The trust is set up in memory of 20-year-old Richard Overall who had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and was inspired the creation of this trust. You can visit the trust’s online site here to get more information about the financial support that it offers.

3. Finding Inclusive Activities and Sports

It has become significantly easier to find inclusive activities across the U.K. Inclusive sports can be practised individually or in teams and there are several resources that you can utilise to find inclusive physical activity options in your area. Here are just a few options to get you started.

Government Programmes

Several government initiatives offer sports activities, camps, and resources for disabled people living in the U.K. You can visit local council web pages (like the ones here and here) for more details on the available activities and organisations in your area.

Sport England’s Inclusive Sport Programme

Another Sport England programme that aims to increase accessibility to sports for disabled individuals, the Inclusive Sport Programme offers valuable resources for getting in touch with inclusive sport groups and facilities in your area. You can read more about the available options here.

The English Federation of Disability Sport

The English Federation of Disability Sport organises nationwide inclusive sports programs and offers support for disabled athletes that want to start practising a new adaptive sport. You can find useful information on the federation’s web page here.

D. Striving For an Active Lifestyle

Leading a healthy and active life is important in maintaining your physical and mental well-being. Sports not only challenge your physical strength but also your mental endurance, so taking on a new and demanding activity will feel incredibly rewarding once you thrive at it. Athletes with disabilities face more issues when practising sports but their successes are all the more rewarding and exciting because of the difficulty of their paths.

Don’t get discouraged by the extra hurdles that you’ll have to go through and keep pushing yourself to do the best you can. Participating in sports can only make you stronger and help you grow. It’s also a great chance to discover and nurture new passions and hobbies so keep an open mind and keep pushing forward. After all, that’s what all the great athletes do!

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