"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Taking adaptive sports

Regular exercise is a recipe for staying healthy and energetic as you age. But sometimes it's not that easy. Many older adults have an injury, illness, health condition, or disability that makes activities difficult, if not seemingly inconceivable. If you might be on this category, adaptive sports generally is a welcome opportunity.

“But thanks to modern technology and supporting infrastructure, people can find almost any sport or activity that accommodates their abilities and helps them stay active.”

Wide range of selections

Adapted sports are competitive or recreational sports or activities for individuals with disabilities or physical limitations. They often run parallel to traditional efforts but are modified to satisfy a person's needs.

Name an indoor, outdoor, or seasonal activity, and there's an excellent probability there's an adapted version. Popular selections include cycling, skiing, archery, kayaking, rowing, tennis, bowling, swimming, basketball and golf. (In 2022, the US Golf Association launched the inaugural US Adaptive Open as its fifteenth national championship.)

Being energetic is much more necessary for individuals with disabilities or limitations. “Lack of regular exercise greatly increases their risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes and cancer,” says Dr. Blewett.

Adaptive sports may support emotional health. June 1, 2019 Review of Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Studies have found that individuals who take part in adaptive sports and activities report significantly higher overall health, the next quality of life, and a more satisfying social life.

Find your activity.

The kind of adaptive sport or activity you select is dependent upon your interests and activity level, says Dr. Blewett. Here are some strategies to assist you find your best fit.

Focus in your strengths. Don't give attention to what you’ll be able to't do, but give attention to what you’ll be able to do. Is walking not an option? Try power walking using climbing poles for support. Can't use your legs fully? Focus on upper body activities reminiscent of swimming or kayaking.

Discover what you enjoy. “There's a good chance that your favorite activities can be adjusted to fit your needs,” says Dr. Blewett. For example, certain golf carts can assist you rise up and stabilize your body when swinging the club. In sled hockey, individuals with lower body mobility use sleds to skate across the ice. Recumbent bikes (three-wheeled bicycles that hold the rider in a seated or reclining position) help cyclists with balance problems or back problems.

Join a team. Many adaptive sports have organized team leagues with adjusted rules and formats, reminiscent of wheelchair basketball and tennis, and “beep” baseball and kickball for the visually impaired. “It's a great way to raise awareness of your new endeavor and build a community with peers who have similar disabilities or limitations,” says Dr. Blewett. “Also, a little competition provides extra motivation to help you stay motivated.”

Try something recent. Use your situation as a possibility to seek out a brand new interest or try something out of your comfort zone, reminiscent of water skiing, windsurfing, horseback riding, or mountain climbing.

“Adopting to vigorous sports and activities can be physically and emotionally challenging, as it can feel like your disability has increased, but don't let that discourage you,” says Dr. Bloitt. are “Participating in adaptive sports is not a way to live less, but a way to live better.”

How to seek out adaptive sports in your area

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