When most people think of fitness for children, they imagine kids running all around, engaged in activities that help them burn calories and promote positive muscle growth. But what about the children who have a physical disability that limits some of their movements? Or the mentally disabled child who may not be able to understand complex fitness actions or how to engage in them?
Fortunately, physical activity offers them some great fitness benefits. Some are the same as for other children, but some are additional and provide a little extra incentive for them to get active despite their disability.
For example, engaging in physical activities promotes their health and wellness, just as it does for you and I. It also teaches them the importance of staying healthy, which can help them as they grow older.
Additional benefits to disabled children include the fact that many studies show that a lot of physical programs can help increase functional ability. So, by enjoying consistent strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility enhancing movements, children with disabilities may find that their conditions aren’t as limiting.
Fitness activities can also help disabled children feel a sense of accomplishment. Whether it is making it all the way across the monkey bars (even with assistance), running a particular distance, or anything else that they do, when they cross that finish line, they have a sense of pride that will make them grin from ear to ear.
And if the fitness activity involves a group of individuals, it can help a disabled child feel more included and part of the team. In a world where they often feel like an outcast, this makes fitness activities the one area where they feel like a valuable member who serves a purpose, and there really is no better feeling than that.
If you have a disabled child, some fun physical activities you can do right at home include creating some type of obstacle course or setting up a treasure hunt. Kids with motor impairments might also like boccia and children in wheelchairs may enjoy playing wheelchair basketball.
If you have or know of a disabled child, what are some activities that they enjoy? Please share them below as your ideas may help someone else who is looking to inspire their little one to increase his or her fitness in a fun yet effective way.