Accessible sport and fitness tips — Scope | Disability forum
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Accessible sport and fitness tips

Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,793 Disability Gamechanger

The following sport and fitness tips have been contributed by members of our online community: we hope they will give you some ideas to try. If you have any concerns about your health or the wellbeing of someone you are caring for, please consult a doctor or qualified professional. And if you have any tips of your own, we'd love to hear them! 

blue hand weights on a table next to a blue pair of sport trainers

The English Federation of Disability Sport

The English Federation of Disability Sport runs an Inclusive Fitness Initiative, a scheme that ensures gyms are accessible for disabled people. Find an IFI gym near you.

Parasport self-assessment wizard

Parasport is an organisation dedicated to helping disabled people get involved in sports. You can use their Parasport self-assessment wizard to find a sport activity that suits you.

Wheelchair hand bike

I missed being out on my bike and so I now use a handbike that attaches to my wheelchair, electric assistance hub is so helpful. Great for exercise and when I feel too unwell to push I use it just on battery power.

Mix it up

We walk, run, dance, play footy, trampoline, horse ride (parent of 6 year old boy with hemiplegia) - all great ways of keeping active!

Keeping fit to help manage young people

It seems so hard to believe, but my cuddly baby boy is now almost seventeen, six foot tall and weighing well over 100 kilos. Managing his behaviour as well as his drop seizures is tricky to say the least. As he grew up to become obvious that he responded better to men and as a woman, and particularly one on the small side, I was in danger of not being able to control him. As a result, I've spent a lot of time doing cardio exercise which has given me the physical confidence to manage him in public. I can block his way and stop him from charging across roads and help support him if he has seizures in the street. It has also helped me keep a more confident and positive outlook about my son.

Leg exercise tip

I do a specific leg exercise (recommended by a health professional), where I sit-up at against a wall, and straightening-out my legs, as much as possible, by pushing down on my knees, so I can attempt to keep them straight for as long as possible, which in turn, helps keep them straight for as long as possible, which in turn, helps keep them malleable and therefore easier for me to walk. You may need to consult a health professional, before you try this, as it’s important to be able to do it comfortably and without harming yourself.

Walking tip

I try and walk as much and as long as possible, as it keeps my legs active, which is very important, as it can and does reduce the stiffness and increases my stamina too.

Stamina tip

I workout my legs at the gym, and because I have Cerebral Palsy, it helps me manage it, by strengthening my muscles in that area. I use the leg press and leg extension. I also use a stationary bike, to help with my stamina, as I can get tired easily.

Keeping healthy

Over the last 2 and a half years I've lost 4 stone and I've found exercise and eating a healthy diet has really helped my mobility as well as improving my CP. I've found to start off slowly is the key don't push yourself too hard at first, I started off my doing simple things like small movements e.g punching mid air and stretches slow movements and building up will get your body used to exercise before hitting the gym. Before starting the gym I thought there would be hardly anything I could do but to my great surprise a lot of gyms have a lot of accessible equipment e.g hand cycle, step/handles to get on treadmill, which means attending the gym is made easy and safe. In terms of food one of the best foods I've found since eating healthy is cottage cheese - this food is amazing high in protein, low in fat and yummy! Most of all though guys just enjoy getting out there and be active :)

The only real all terrain wheelchair that can climb a mountain!

Have you seen the mountain trike, it is incredible, it will help you get out and about and go places you perhaps weren't able to before, while also getting a little fitter.

Try a Wii fit board to improve co-ordination skills and balance

Try a Wii fit board to improve co-ordination skills and balance, it really does work, and is fun and engaging, and much safer than the old conventional wobble boards.

You can find more online community tips here, and be sure to let us know if there's anything you'd like to add!


  • SunshineLou
    SunshineLou Member Posts: 79 Pioneering
    I’m doing my first adaptive ski session next month with Disability SnowSports UK.
    Back to skiing, but in a different way :) 
  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,793 Disability Gamechanger
    Oh wow, that sounds amazing @SunshineLou! You must let us know how you get on, sounds like a lot of fun! 
  • SunshineLou
    SunshineLou Member Posts: 79 Pioneering
  • AndMac
    AndMac Member Posts: 27 Pioneering
    Following a recommendation on a CP related Facebook page, I've discovered something to help with my tightening, contracting leg muscles when lying down and walking, a CP symptom that has only surfaced in recent years with the onset of arthritis. (Baclofen is helping me sleep, but not doing much else, though the advice is to persevere.)

    It's a vibrating foam roller, as used by athletes to relieve sore, tight muscles, post-exercise. If you exercise, and this is a problem, or if tight muscles from CP/hemiplegia/whatever are a problem, read on (Obviously, it goes without saying that you should check with your doc before undertaking a new exercise programme.)

    When I'm sitting/lying down and my muscles spasm, grabbing my roller, and pressing on the relevant area gives instant pain relief. I'm moving around more easily already, after a few days use. Using the roller won't cure my osteoarthritis, but relieving the pain of contracture and helping my leg to stretch will be a huge improvement to my quality of life.

    The roller wasn't cheap, £100 on [email protected] but may be my best  health investment ever. It had a video review  from a para-athlete with CP.
    At 60, I'm a long way from being a para-athlete, but this will also help with tight muscles following exercise, in my case, cycling.The contracture was making cycling very difficult, so it's a double win.I ride a trike, manually powered, I cannot recommend adult trikes enough if you can't balance on a bike... that's a whole new post on its own.
  • Pippa_Alumni
    Pippa_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 5,793 Disability Gamechanger
    That's so interesting @AndMac- I used to use foam rollers back when I was a dancer (pre-chronic illness!) and never thought of them being used this way, but it makes a lot of sense! Really glad to hear you've found something that helps! 
  • ctanner
    ctanner Member Posts: 3 Listener
    edited July 2018


    I am an able bodied student who is currently designing a way to improve the physical recreational activities that disabled people take part in frequently with their families. If you would be at all interested in helping me with a couple of questions, please please contact me 

    Many thanks Christina tanner

  • Markmywords
    Markmywords Member Posts: 419 Pioneering
    All the above require some level of physical capability.

    If you have some use of at least one arm then all target sports can be done from a stationary position and are accessible. Sports such as bowls, Frisbee-Golf, Archery and even firearms (clays, rifle targets) are accessible, even competitively.
  • AlisonBrooks
    AlisonBrooks Member Posts: 6 Listener
    I had the privilege of chairing the Conductive Education Conference in Nottingham recently and arranged for Richard Whitehead MBE to speak. He recommended setting goals on the steps of a ladder and once you reach the top, set your next goal. This way each goal is achievable and you are more likely to keep going!
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,872 Connected
    Check out the community tips. There might be some useful advice on participating in sport activities. Or you can try ParaSports I think that they have sports suitable for people with ID and autism. I recently read a article on why exercise is so important for disabled people in general. It is worth reading. Also Sport for England may have handy information and advice on the website for people to read. Just be aware that most of those sports are not appropriate for those with virtually no use of their hands fingers and arms. However do not give up. I’m sure that you will find something suitable to participate in. 
  • defeatingdisability
    defeatingdisability Member Posts: 5 Connected
    I have written a blog post all about how dance helps my disability.
  • csno01
    csno01 Member Posts: 277 Pioneering
    I recently went on a Rowing Taster Session. This was both interesting and challenging, due to way i needed to manoover myself to get into the boat. If i put a foot wrong, my foot would go straight through the bottom - not good. Another issue i found was the level of commitment required. 
    I gave it some thought of what i could perhaps do with both a group of people and on my own too. I had a keen interest in running when i was at school, I had all the gear and so I thought why not. I have been jogging for a month now and am slowly making progress. I have Spastic CP in my right leg and my goal is to participate in a Park Run.
  • csno01
    csno01 Member Posts: 277 Pioneering
    I’m doing my first adaptive ski session next month with Disability SnowSports UK.
    Back to skiing, but in a different way :) 
    Hi SunshineLou I have heard about Disability Snow Sport. It is amazing what they can do. Good luck with your sking. I am keen to try sledging.
  • Matt_Scope
    Matt_Scope Scope Navigate service Posts: 56 Pioneering
    There is few few sports now that do not have a "para" equivalent, or can be adapted to meet most people needs.  Tennis, swimming, athletics, basketball, Skiing, Ice Hockey/floor hockey Football and Rugby.  the best way to discover more about these sports and access them is often to do a search of something that you are interested to look at and see if it exists and is accessible in your area.  That's how I found Para Ice Hockey. 
  • April2018mom
    April2018mom Posts: 2,872 Connected
    I have a general book on fitness someone purchased me at Christmas. I also am a member of my local gym. Additionally what is your favorite sport? These are my top tips for exercising safely taken from my post on here the other night. 
    Do something you love. Find a sport you can do safely. Research online, there are so many options out there. Join a class or club specially geared towards disabled folk. Take baby steps. Try a exercise class or search for exercise videos on YouTube. Go for walks. Build activity into your daily routine. 
    Do muscle strengthening exercises too. Include cardio in your exercise regime. Ask a friend to exercise with you. Do you have a leisure centre card or pass or not? Go for it. Do not hesitate. Exercise after work as well. Make time to exercise. 
    Check out this link
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,545 Disability Gamechanger
    Thank you for sharing this @April2018mom :)


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