Physical Activity For Children with Disabilities
About 18% of children and adolescents in the United States have at least one major physical disability. When a child has a disability, chances of that child participating in sports or other useful physical activity becomes limited.
However, physically inactive kids are bound to face medical and psychological problems, regardless of their disability statuses. Many studies and researches have linked physical activity with a healthier life, and an improved mood, without excluding the disables.
More worrisome is the fact that up to eighty percent of children with disabilities are either obese or overweight. This is not unrelated to the issue of their lack of physical activity.
Why disabled children perform less physical activity
Children with disabilities are often excluded from sporting activities for many reasons. For instance, many people have no idea how to include kids with disabilities in sports and other physical activities.
Also, facilities that simplify their participation in physical activities are usually expensive. This factor might hinder kids with disabilities from low-income families from participating in physical activity. Some might even need psychological help to fit into the normal society.
However, these shouldn't be excused at all, because the negative effects of lack of physical activity don't spare people in these conditions. Below are some inexpensive physical activities that can be carried out by a kid with special needs.
Physical activity ideas for disabled children
To curb the dangers associated with reduced physical activity, a lot of sports programs have been designed for disabled kids. In addition to sports, less powerful kids can also try out several simpler physical activities which is not much demanding.
Here are some physical activity types, perfect for children with disabilities
- Cardiovascular activities
Cardiovascular activities are exercises that directly increase heart rate and raises one's level of endurance. These activities are great for burning weight for they burn fat and calories. Cardiovascular activities also decrease the rate of chronic diseases.
Kids with disability issues should be able to perform some cardiovascular exercises for a healthy heart. Some activities for disabled children include wheelchair tennis, cycling, racing, or aqua jogging. While the apparatus for these activities might be a bit expensive to set up, they’re worth the sacrifice.
- Sports activities
Over the years, the sporting community has been making provisions aimed at increasing the performance of disabled kids in sports. Sports activities are like a healthy balance between cardio and strength activities.
There are a lot of sporting activities that have been made playable for kids with a special need, notable ones being wheelchair tennis, cycling, and blind football.
Today, it's more useful and more rewarding for a disabled child to play a sport. At the moment, the Paralympics is played every four years, and it features more than 27 sports including archery, judo, and football for the visually challenged.
Disabled children with a particular sports skill can always practice staying fit, and they can lead rewarding careers.
- Fitness computer games
This is a digital age and there are a plethora of apps and games online that encourage physical activity.
Games like Hasbro Cranium Hullaballoo or Thinkfun Move and Groove makes the kid happily engaged, without seeing the activities as chores that they must compete, while contributing positively to the kid’s health and wellness.
This should make a part of the kid’s active life!
Hiking is an especially recommended activity for children with disabilities. There are many hiking destinations, some of which are easy to tour, and others, very difficult.
For a child with special needs, hiking is quite a great possibility, with the right equipment. For example, wheelchairs can make it possible for those with mobility challenges, etc.
We've seen many cooking wonders, but not many have been able to achieve a feat like that of Christine Ha, a blind Master Chef winner.
If a disabled child has a special interest in the kitchen, such a kid shouldn't be discouraged. Restructuring the kitchen to be easily accessible for those with special needs is in fact, recommended.
Signing them up for cooking classes also sounds great. While training them to be the next winner of the Master Chef TV show, they also enjoy the activity, keeping them engaged and productive in the long run.
Importance of physical activity for children with disabilities
The call for physical activities for disabled kids is not a useless effort. Surely, there are some benefits important attached to it.
Here are some helpful ones that might want to make you consider signing a child up for the next gym class.
- Improvements in confidence
Exposure to physical activities (especially sports and games) helps develop a kid’s confidence.
Most kids with special needs are often exempted from games and other physical activity, which might make them feel isolated and depressed.
On the other hand, participating in games and sports can lead to a positive increase in self-esteem and self-confidence. It can also help to deal with depression and anxiety.
- Improvements in physical development
Children with intellectual challenges may face difficulties with locomotion and communication skills. Engaging in sports and other forms of physical activity has always been linked to promoting better developmental skills.
However, children with special needs, coupled with lack of exercise will not only experience rapid drawbacks in physical development, they might also suffer from some other conditions like obesity, which might further slowdown the process of development.
- Improvement in social life
Participating in various physical activities sharpens the social skills of children with disabilities.
When they gather for events and compete with others, they interact with others, make new friends, and socialize. This makes them more socially active than their inactive counterparts.
The fearful but true statistics are up there, and it will only continue to grow if nothing is done to promote physical activity.
For maximum positive results, children with disabilities should be engaged in special physical activity, and this article suggests some key activities that would be perfect for a kid with special needs, as well as important benefits of engaging these kids in physical activities.