Keeping active this summer with accessible activities

Exercise is good for your mental and physical wellbeing. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins: your body’s natural painkillers that help to boost your mood. We bring you some fun ways to get fit.

SKYDIVING

Tandem parachuting has made the thrill-seekers’ sport accessible to everyone who loves a rush and isn’t scared of heights. Strapped to an instructor who controls the dive and parachute, special equipment is available to help lift your legs if you have limited mobility.

Skydiving companies, like Skydive Buzz have centres across the country, and specially trained instructors to help those with a disability. All centres require a signed clearance letter from your GP before you can book your session, so plan your skydiving experience in advance.

GARDENING

Not all workouts involve breaking a sweat: gardening also counts as a form of aerobic exercise. An afternoon spent planting, pruning or landscaping can improve muscle strength, finger dexterity and blood circulation, and it’s also therapeutic. A range of assistive equipment is available for use in the garden from adapted tools to raised beds.

It can also be a great way to socialise: get your friends and family out in the garden, join a local gardening club, or rent a plot at your local allotment and swap tips and tricks with others. If you don’t have access to an outdoor space, why not plant herbs on your windowsill?

YOGA

Yoga is well known for being meditative and calming, but it also helps build muscle strength and endurance. It can be tailored to suit all ranges of ability and can be started from any level of fitness to improve flexibility, dexterity and balance. Yoga comes in many different forms, like Hatha yoga which aims to prepare the body for meditation or Iyengar yoga which gives you better posture.

Adaptive yoga is normally a mix of styles and has been specially formed to help those who have a disability, including wheelchair users, amputees and people with PTSD. Chairs are often used in adaptive yoga to make it accessible for everyone – you can even do it at your desk at work.

GYMNASTICS

Gymnastics isn’t all backflips and cartwheels: activities can be adapted to suit different levels of ability and no special equipment is necessary. The sport improves your coordination and muscle strength, but most importantly – it’s fun! Artistic gymnastics, using vaults, bars and floor exercises, and rhythmic gymnastics, using hoops, balls and ribbons are the most popular forms of gymnastics.

It can all be adapted to make it more accessible by using stronger bars, cushioned floors, or brighter ribbons for sensory activities. You can even try trampolining if you’re adventurous! Programmes like British Gymnastics’ I’M IN have made the sport accessible to all and are training coaches to support people of different abilities.

SWIMMING

Being in the water is a great low-intensity exercise that works all your muscles. The buoyancy supports you, making it easier to exercise without putting any pressure on your joints, muscles and spine. For a good workout, try a class like water aerobics, aqua Zumba, or aqua jogging which normally involves light weights.

CYCLING

Hand cycling, tandem cycling, e-cycling, which is when an electric bicycle is used to aid movement, have made riding a bike one of the most accessible activities. It’s a hobby that gets you outside in to the fresh air, exploring the city or the countryside and can be done solo or with family and friends.

Different adapted bikes are available like tricycles, which provide extra balance. Recumbent cycles are available with seats positioned lower and with more back support, taking the strain off the rider’s legs and providing more balance. Companion cycles are a type of tandem bike which allows cyclists to sit side by side, rather than one behind another.

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