Exercise is a vital ingredient to living a healthy, happy life. It boosts your mental health, increases physical fitness and acts as a social activity to help you meet like minded individuals.
If you’re looking for ways to keep active in a wheelchair, then one of the first steps is finding an activity or sport that you enjoy. There’s no point forcing yourself to engage with something if you’re not getting a kick out of it. At Karma Mobility, we truly believe there’s a sport out there for everyone, so we’ve created a guide on 8 adapted sports that cover team games as well as individual skill.
So let’s see which one you fancy.
Wheelchair Tennis is one of the most well known adapted sports, with players now as celebrated at major tournaments as able bodied players. Wheelchair tennis can be played as an individual or in a doubles team. British Champions, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid for example, play as both.
But just because wheelchair tennis is often shown in the big leagues, doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of clubs around the UK where you can play at an amateur level or simply for fun.
If you fancy picking up a racket and seeing how nimble you can be on court then you’ll be able to find your local wheelchair tennis club using the handy postcode tool on Parasport.
Wheelchair basketball is one of the oldest para-sports with the first national tournament played in 1949. Wheelchair netball is almost the same age – the game originated in Stoke Mandeville in 1955.
The team dynamic and energetic nature of the sport is one of the reasons why it remains one of the most popularly played adaptive sports across England and America.
Each team consists of 5 players and 7 substitutes.
The International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) provides plenty of resources and educational materials to help you progress your skills in wheelchair basketball, as well as information on upcoming championships and classification rules for playing professionally.
Wheelchair Rugby is played indoors on a regulation sized rugby court, and teams consist of 4 players. It is a scaled down version of Rugby that is usually played in specially adapted sports wheelchairs to help improve your mobility around the court.
However, Physical Disability Rugby League has really taken off in the past few years because it gives people with disabilities the opportunity to play full scale, full contact rugby. This is unique as it allows people of all disabilities to play with and against each other.
PDRL champions the idea that nobody should be excluded from taking part in the sport they love, and place emphasis on the social benefits and enjoyment of the sport over the competitive element.
The game has full tackle rules but players who have a disability that restricts their ability to be tackled can adhere to Touch RL rules. This means that other players can only touch them rather than tackle them, and are identified by wearing red shorts.
This consideration adheres to PDRL’s ability to include everyone in the game.
If team sports aren’t for you then you could try your hand at Hand Cycling. This adapted sport is designed to give your freedom alongside your desire to keep fit.
Because cycling is a solo sport, you’ll be able to choose when and where you exercise, including whether you’d prefer to compete or simply have free reign of the track in your spare time.
There are currently 12 HSBC UK British Cycling Disability Cycling Hubs across the UK where you can improve your skills in coach led lessons. From Bath to Leeds and even Glasgow, take a look at where you can experience the wonders of Hand Cycling at British Cycling.
‘Once you’re in the pool you’re the same as everyone else, any physical disabilities are irrelevant’ – Matthew Whorwood.
Many people with disabilities have stated that swimming is incredibly therapeutic because it helps them feel free to move with more ease. This is why it’s often used as a form of physiotherapy for anyone who has recently suffered a life-altering accident.
But it also provides a fantastic way for disabled people to keep active with minimal risk of injury.
If you’re interested in starting swimming but aren’t sure whether it’s for you, book a free taster session with one of many clubs across the UK.
Fencing is suitable for all disabilities including people with lower body amputations, cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries. Fencing is a sport built on discipline, skill and respect for your opponent, but it’s also incredibly entertaining.
Wheelchairs are fastened to rails on the floor to keep your lightweight wheelchair steady so you have full range of movement in your body whilst remaining stable.
British Fencing aims to give people of all abilities the opportunity to try fencing. They work with clubs across the country to offer ‘come and try’ community sessions so you can experience training before deciding if it’s the right sport for you.
Para athletics covers a wide range of Athletic sports including 5 field disciplines:
If you’re a wheelchair user, you can take part in any one of these activities or give all of them a go. Each of the throwing sports provide athletes with a throwing frame that allows you to use the same equipment as the able bodied sport. The Pentathlon is made up of 3 field events and two track events that will push you to your limits.
Wheelchair athletics is known to be very rewarding and gives you a chance to experiment and compete in multiple sports, or practise in your spare time. Whichever feels best for you.
Dance is a really wonderful way to keep active and engage in a partnered sport. Many studies have proven that it also improves your brain function and keeps you feeling emotionally as well as physically fit.
The recent inclusion of disabled contestants on Strictly Come Dancing has changed the way that the public views dancing as an inclusive pastime, but many disabled people will know that it has been popular amongst the community for years.
One of the best things about dancing is that you can partner up with anybody, meaning people with disabilities don’t simply dance with people who are within their ‘classification’, as with other adapted sports. This means you can connect with a wide range of people over a similar interest.
Especially as a young person, it can be difficult to feel included in sports at school if you’re a wheelchair user or have limited mobility. Schools can struggle to give you the tools you need to really enjoy exercise, which is why finding clubs outside of school are super important in helping people get active, get fit and truly love the community and strength that sports can bring to an individual.
For more information on how you can keep active and to find like minded individuals, join the Karma community by following us on social media.