Wellbeing & Fitness

Let’s get physical: a guide to disability sport in the UK

Everyone knows the benefits of taking part in sport and exercise, from a happier and healthier body to a boosted immune system, sport is also a great way to get out and about and meet new people. When you have a disability or impairment though, you may think that some sports are off-limits to you. But after the huge success of the Paralympics and the recent Invictus Games, more and more sports are opening up to people, whatever their ability.

Whether you want to get involved in sport in order to improve your physical wellbeing – and exercise is a great way to reduce pain, relieve feelings of stress and improve energy – or because you just want to have some fun with like-minded people, the Parasport website offers a comprehensive guide to disabled sport throughout the UK.

Describing themselves as ‘the yellow pages for disability sport,’ Parasport is run by the British Paralympic Association and features a comprehensive list of all the clubs, societies and sports that are on offer. From archery to wheelchair basketball, there are so many different sports out there, that there is bound to be something that takes your fancy.

There are also regional websites available, covering England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and with the English Federation of Disability Sports website stating that only 2 in 10 disabled people in England are physically active, there is no better time to take the plunge and help to improve the statistics.

So what are some of the most popular sports out there for people with disabilities? One of the most well-known and oldest, thanks to its popularity at the Paralympics, is wheelchair basketball. Originally developed after the Second World War to help rehabilitate injured servicemen, the sport is now played in over 100 countries around the world.

Other popular sports include: rowing, gymnastics, wheelchair tennis, judo, goalball, blind football, swimming, wheelchair fencing, Boccia and paracycling. The Parasport website also offers an advanced search option so that you can enter details about the type of impairment that you have, and find out which sports are best suited to you. Check out these videos for a taster of some of the sports…

For those who prefer to exercise on their own though, there’s also the option of popping down the gym, with IFI accredited gyms now up and down the country. Each IFI gym has full accessibility, as well as adapted equipment and highly trained staff that can give you advice on adapted exercises depending on your needs.

For more comprehensive information about specific sports, most British sport associations also offer detailed guides to disability within their sport, such as the British Cycling website and the Tennis Foundation. If the London 2012 Paralympics taught us anything, it’s that disability doesn’t have to be a barrier to taking part in sport, and with so many schemes now on offer for people with a huge range of abilities, there really is no better time to take the plunge, Ellie Simmonds style.

By Disability Horizons

Check out…

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RaceRunning: have you heard of this athletic disability sport?
The benefits of swimming no matter what your ability.

Get in touch by messaging us on Facebook, tweeting us @DHorizons, emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com or leaving your comments below.

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