Playing Sports and Staying Active with a Disability

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Living with a disability does not only mean striving to live a normal life.  Why not push past normal and boring to challenge yourself with sports or active lifestyle changes?  As a person with a disability, or the parent of a child with a disability, it’s never too late to try finding the sport that you love to add some excitement in your life or the life of your child. 

Sports can make a huge difference in anyone’s life.  Those with disabilities can especially benefit from getting involved in a sport that they enjoy.  Everything involved in mastering a sport can help you stay strong and healthy.  It can improve mobility and motor skills, therefore being a great rehabilitative therapy.  

Studies have shown that playing sports can lower stress and contribute to a lower risk of secondary health problems, such as heart conditions and diabetes.  It can also reduce dependence on pain medications and those taken for depression.  These lifestyle changes can help with higher achievement in education and employment opportunities for those with disabilities.

Participating in sports can also offer a much needed boost of confidence and self esteem.  Many times adults and children with disabilities have others assisting them in some way.  Playing a sport can foster independence and knowledge that they can do things in life on their own.  

Disability sports or adaptive sports organizations have led to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games.  But there are many recreation programs all over the U.S. in which you can get involved.  These are often broken down into groups that range from physical disabilities to intellectual disabilities.

Those with disabilities can get involved in team sports or try sports such as tennis, swimming, golf, or track if focusing on their own performance would be a better fit.  Sometimes competing against a single opponent or besting their own previous performance is an easier place to start and build confidence.  

Summer vacation day camps can also be great for kids to get active and try new skills and activities that they have not previously been introduced to, such as hiking, archery, or kayaking.  It is also a great place to help children with disabilities make friends and learn independence.  

Starting an active lifestyle can be a big change for someone with a disability and one way to introduce them to activity is by getting  them a dog.  A dog, or service dog if needed, can be an excellent companion. Dog ownership can be a great source of positivity. They make people feel less stressed and lonely while feeling more loved and important.  Playing with and caring for a dog will get you outside and moving around. Even if those with a disability cannot commit the time to regularly walk the dog, there are services that can help.  They will still benefit from getting more exercise than they had previously.  The more those with disabilities get moving and become more active, the sooner they will be willing to try more challenging activities and sports.  

Always encourage anyone with any type of disability to try something new and have fun.  Their life and yours will be enhanced and enjoyable by getting involved in new, exciting sports and activities.  Staying active is the path to a longer, healthier life for everyone.

Photo via Pixabay by Skeeze