Nearly 10 percent of the world’s population has one form of disability or another. Until recently, such individuals had to enjoy most physical activities vicariously, but thanks to creative designs and advancements in engineering, nearly all disabled people can enjoy one or more physically active recreational pursuits. Now they can experience the thrill of adventure and the sense of accomplishment that most people take for granted.
While more seriously disabled persons may not be able to ride a horse, those who can often find the experience liberating, challenging, exciting and both mentally and physically beneficial. When on a horse, riders utilize muscles not used in simple walking or running, thereby improving muscle tone and preventing muscle spasms. The activity enhances balance and coordination and also improves posture. Because of the minor risk element of riding, riders also feel a sense of independence and achievement.
Because of the variety of fishing equipment and techniques, this is an activity almost everyone can enjoy. Not only is it satisfying to catch your own dinner, but spending the day in the outdoors can encourage feelings of freedom and an appreciation for nature. Fishing offers opportunities to socialize, increases motor skills and can increase the fisher's attention span—not to mention that by its nature fishing fosters patience.
Thanks to modern developments in cycling designs, virtually anyone can ride a bike regardless of disability level. Hand-crank bikes allow paraplegic individuals the freedom to bike alone. Trikes enable those with balance or other mobility issues to ride without fear of tipping. On a side-by-side carriage, co-riders can help with steering for those with mobility and coordination problems, and tandem bikes are ideal for the blind or otherwise visually challenged. Cycling is enjoyable aerobic exercise and provides independence for the disabled.
Because of innovative designs in various types of skis, both water skiing and snow skiing are increasingly popular sports for the disabled, offering healthy exercise and the thrill that can only come from an element of risk. Archery and shooting have long been popular activities with disabled persons and remain so today. Novel inventions in golf clubs allow people with various disabilities to enjoy a day on the green, and kayaking and diving are quickly becoming favorite activities of paraplegics and other disabled individuals.
- handi-ski. image by Didier Sibourg from Fotolia.com