As Olivia Newton-John once sang, ‘let’s get physical, physical’ and she was definitely on to something. Exercise is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, and disability should be no barrier to getting active. There is a starting line waiting for you to take your position. Living life with a disability does not mean you get a get out of jail free card when it comes to exercise – sorry, not sorry.
Regardless of ability, there is one sure fact that staying active is not only good mentally, but it is also proven to relieve certain symptoms caused by an impairment or condition. Everyone has their own take on what is fun when it comes to exercising, from gym buffs, football fanatics, extreme sports to sweating it all out at hot yoga; there’s a sport for all abilities and interests. The world of inclusive sport is ready to get you in the best shape of your life.
Acquiring a disability can be difficult in a number of ways. It can be a struggle both mentally and physically. Discovering, or even re-discovering sport, may not be on the top of your to-do list, but it is a fantastic way to rejuvenate your sense of self. There is a lot of talk these days about wellbeing so it is no surprise that yoga, Pilates, and similarly low impact sports are the top trend of the moment.
Popular amongst people of all ages and abilities, low impact sports rarely cause injury and are essential to building core strength and increasing balance. If you are diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) or adapting life with reduced mobility, yoga opens its doors to all participants to enjoy the benefits of exercise. Yoga is known for its benefits on positive mental health: after all, it is important to look after our mental health as well as our physical health.
Do you still long to play the beautiful game? Feel the rush of adrenaline when you score a goal? Are you convinced that your days of playing football are behind you? Then you would be mistaken: even football is accessible. Electric wheelchair users can get back on the pitch with the ever-growing game of powerchair football. The sport is exciting and thrilling in many ways, not just for the fact it is the only active team sport for people using powerchairs.
Fast paced, dynamic, inclusive and entertaining to play and watch – it is no surprise powerchair football has a world cup tournament of its very own. Or why not try out goalball? Since 1946 visually impaired players have been getting involved with football in their own unique way. Teams of six players work together to throw their ball into their opponents’ nets – of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds. All players must wear opaque eyeshades at all time and there are only strings to indicate court markings. Accessible football takes the game to a whole new level.
Martine Wright, Jonnie Peacock, Samantha Kinghorn, and many more famous sporting names have gone on to win medals on sporting stands across the world. They’re not like other sporting stars though, they achieved their sporting dreams after acquiring disabilities. Terror attacks, meningitis and accidents left their bodies feeling and looking different – but it didn’t stop them from going for gold. It can seem that there are many sports that may not be accessible, but they’ve proved otherwise.
Painting disabled people as superheroes is often criticised and not everyone can win a gold medal, but regardless of ability there are inclusive sports that can everyone can get involved with. Athletics, horse riding, hockey, fencing, volleyball, racing, to name a few, are all official Paralympic sports. There are also sporting centres and clubs all over the UK that can provide accessible training sessions for many Paralympic sports. If you’re dreaming of gold or just want to get fitter then look no further.
For those really looking to step outside their comfort zone or to try out the latest sporting craze, it’s time to hit the pole. Disability comes with a lot of misconceptions and preconceived notions and it’s important you get rid of them. Pole dancing also comes with a bag of stereotypes and raised eyebrows, why not wash away those thoughts, too.
The rise of pole dancing, also known as pole fitness or simply pole, has been overwhelming in recent years – there is even talks of it becoming an Olympic sport. It’s a fantastic workout combining aerobics and dance, and it’s also inclusive – absolutely anyone can do it. Man, woman, disabled or non-disabled, pole is the wildcard fitness trend that will get you feeling stronger and healthier than ever; and you’ll be oozing body confidence.
Recently, there has been a lot of disabled pole competitors hitting the gym – there are now pole centred gyms across the UK – including wheelchair user Erin Clark and Deb Roach, who was born with one arm. Both have competed in pole competitions and won; elevating the wildcard choice to new heights for the disabled community. Shake off the cobwebs and rock your gym gear. The sporting world is waiting for you.
Get out and get active with a full list of accessible sports over at www.disabilitysport.org.uk