Fitness and Sports for Adults with Developmental Disabilities

Kickball at OnTrack

It’s stated that exercise affects every part of the body, including the mind. The benefits of regular exercise for people with developmental disabilities are the same as those without disabilities, but in some cases, the need for regular exercise and movement may be even greater.

Physical activity for those with disabilities may be part of therapy to retain flexibility and range of motion as well as build strength. For those who may be wheelchair-bound, daily exercise strengthens the heart and lungs and helps control weight issues. Based on the individual’s disability and ability to participate, exercises, sports, and fitness programs are modified for comfort and desired outcomes.

Opengate provides residents with a full range of onsite fitness equipment such as stationary bikes, treadmills, and basketball nets along with activity games like Wii and Xbox programs they can follow. Also included are activities like ping-pong, volleyball, and kickball to teach physical skills and teamwork.

Perhaps most important for individuals with disabilities is inclusion within the community and interacting with others. Participating in activities at the local YMCA, through Miracle League Baseball and Planet Fitness allow social opportunities for residents while they engage in exercises such as swimming, skating, and group sports. They not only enhance their socialization skills but also learn friendly competition.

Nestled in the Hudson River Valley, Opengate residents are taken to several scenic places to hike, walk, and ride bikes. An added bonus to exercise is the opportunity to observe and learn about nature through bird watching, flower and tree identification, or noticing the beauty of the boats sailing on the Hudson. Hikes and nature walks allow residents to learn small facts which boost their self-esteem, especially when they are able to report to others what they’ve learned.Eagle Scout Chris with Lakisha

Another exercise is active gardening. Opengate recently received the gift of expansion of our garden areas from an Eagle Scout service project. Weeding, digging, hoeing and raking are definitely calorie-burning activities. Thirty to 45 minutes of gardening can burn 150 to 300 calories and the reward is harvesting healthy fruits and vegetables while getting in shape.

Regular exercise must be a planned activity for all adults, and according to Disabled World’s website, it doesn’t take that much time (150 minutes per week) to reap the benefits.

“A new study by Queen’s University researchers has determined that adults who accumulated 150 minutes of exercise on a few days of the week were not any less healthy than adults who exercised more frequently throughout the week.

The findings indicate that it does not matter how adults choose to accumulate their 150 weekly minutes of physical activity. For instance, someone who did not perform any physical activity on Monday to Friday but was active for 150 minutes over the weekend would obtain the same health benefits from their activity as someone who accumulated 150 minutes of activity over the week by doing 20-25 minutes of activity on a daily basis.”

In conclusion, regular physical exercise for adults with disabilities creates a sense of well-being, achievement, and positive body image. By finding appropriate local venues within the community they are exposed to strategies which curb a sedentary lifestyle and encourage support of physical activity.



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