Whether you’ve been living with a disability for several years or just a little while, if you struggle to stay active or participate in sports; disability advocate Jenny Wise shares some ways you can be active and fit. .


Sometimes, the struggle is because you don’t know where to find inclusive activities, and sometimes the struggle is with yourself because you are afraid you can’t play a sport or participate in an activity with your disability. Don’t allow your insecurities, doubts, or fear hold you back. You can stay as active as you want to be, with your disability.


1. Start Exercising


The best way for you to become more active or participate in a sport is for you to start exercising. You can do this by creating a home gym tailored to your needs or by seeking the help of a physical trainer or physical therapist. Not only will regular exercise build your muscles to prepare you for even more physical activity or participation in a sport, but it will boost your mental health.


When you exercise regularly, you reduce stress and provide an outlet for your emotions. If you’ve been frustrated, depressed or angry, exercise will help you release those negative feelings. It also releases endorphins that make your body and mind feel good.


Exercise also boosts your confidence and leads to improved health. The more you exercise, the stronger you become, and the happier you are with your results. You will see your body transform, which will boost your optimism and confidence. These positive feelings will help you stay motivated to keep exercising and give you the boost you need to join an organised activity or sport.


 2. Get a Dog


When you get a dog, you don’t have much choice but to be active. Dogs get you up and moving to provide care for them and to play with them. Your dog will want to run and play fetch and go for walks, and you will be more likely to do these activities when it is your four-legged friend encouraging you. You’ll get cardiovascular and aerobic exercise when you become a dog owner. In fact, studies show that dog owners are more likely to attain their fitness goals than people without dogs.


You also could benefit from having an assistance dog that will help you complete tasks to increase your independence and improve your life. These dogs also can improve your physical and mental health by giving you a confidence boost, providing companionship, and making it easier for you to get out of the house, socialize, and stay active.


3. Focus on Sports and Activities that Suit Your Abilities


Rather than focusing on your disability, focus on your abilities when looking for activities and sports. For example, if you have limited mobility, you could participate in canoeing, kayaking, or another activity that is well-suited to people who have upper-body strength and abilities. Another option is to find a local league that is inclusive of people with disabilities. Wheelchair basketball, modified skiing, and modified ice hockey are just a few sports that are ideal for people with limited mobility. In fact, adaptive sports for paraplegics are available across the country.


4. Start Swimming


Swimming is an ideal sport for people with disabilities because the water makes you virtually weightless and allows you to move without assistance. After learning how to control your position in the water, you’ll gain confidence to begin swimming and then benefit from the psychological and therapeutic benefits of being in the water, which relieves strain on your body and stimulates your limbs.


If you live with a disability, don’t allow yourself to believe that you cannot be active or participate in a sport. Start exercising and get a dog to boost your mental and physical health, and then find activities or sports that center on your abilities, such as adaptive sports or swimming, rather than those that limit you.


*Jenny Wise homeschools four children, and hopes to connect with other homeschoolers, especially educators and parents of special needs children.


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