According to health recommendations, adults should engage in at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Whatever you choose to do, as long as it gets you moving, doesn't matter.
But what if you find it difficult to be active because of an injury, illness, medical condition, disability, or even just normal ageing? Adaptive sports could provide much-needed assistance in those situations.
How do adaptive sports work?Sports or activities for people with disabilities or physical limitations can be competitive or recreational. They frequently take place in tandem with conventional activities but are modified to accommodate individuals' unique physical capacities.
Dr. Cheri Blauwet, an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School and a former wheelchair racer who is a seven-time Paralympic medalist and a two-time winner of the Boston and New York City Marathons, asserts that "eventually, almost everyone will experience some kind of disability that impedes regular exercise, whether it's mild arthritis, requiring a knee or hip replacement, limited vision, or a more significant physical disability." "But today, people can find almost any sport or activity that takes into account their abilities and helps them stay active thanks to advanced technology and supportive infrastructure."
Why is staying active important?
Obesity, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke risk factors increase when regular exercise is insufficient. Moods are also affected. According to Dr. Blauwet, those with disabilities are particularly vulnerable because it can be difficult to maintain an active lifestyle. "Adaptive sports are a way for us to keep up with our regular exercise and support our health and well-being moving forward."
Research supports this. One study found that people who engage in adaptive sports and activities report having better overall health, a higher quality of life, and more fulfilling social lives.
How can you find out what local adaptive activities are available?
The National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability and the Challenged Athletes Foundation have websites where you can find information about regional and local adaptive sports programmes and accessible events. Dr. Blauwet adds, "These programmes can also assist you in locating mentors, coaches, and the support network you require to succeed."
Your interests and level of functionality will ultimately determine the sport or activity you choose, though there are many possibilities.
Enhance your strengths and think about trying new activities.
Dr. Blauwet offers additional tips that can assist you in making the switch to adaptive activities.
Take a look at how you exercise currently. There is a good chance you can continue with a favourite activity because "almost any kind of sport or activity can be adjusted to accommodate people with disabilities," says Dr. Blauwet.
For example, former Arizona representative Gabby Giffords now uses a recumbent bike as part of her ongoing therapy because she has balance issues and the right side of her body is paralysed due to the assassination attempt that left her with a brain injury. (A three-wheel bicycle known as a recumbent bike puts the rider in a seated or relaxed reclining position.)
Similar adjustments can be made to other sports and activities. For instance, specialised golf carts can assist you in standing and maintaining your balance as you swing the club. Sleds are used in sledge hockey to skate across the ice.
Think about your advantages. Focus on what you can do rather than what you can't. No longer an option to run? How about using walking poles for support while power walking? can’t
Join a group. For people with low vision, "beep" baseball and kickball, as well as wheelchair basketball and tennis, all have organised team leagues with modified rules and formats. According to Dr. Blauwet, these are a fantastic way to raise awareness about your new endeavour and create a community with other peers who have comparable disabilities. Additionally, a little rivalry boosts motivation.
Try a novel approach. Take advantage of your improved functional status to try a new sport or activity. Dr. Blauwet advises, "Test the waters and try something that has always interested you." It might be the perfect time to try out rock wall climbing, water skiing, windsurfing, or horseback riding.
Accepting adaptive sports and activities may be mentally and emotionally challenging because it may seem as though your disability has gotten worse. Dr. Blauwet continues, "But don't let that discourage you. Participating in adaptive sports is not a way of life; rather, it is a way to live better. Remaining committed to being active and making an investment in your health can help reduce and eliminate any negative stigma you feel.