Staying active is incredibly important, especially if you are a person living with a disability. Activity can help you strengthen your heart and muscles, build coordination and improve your general mood and outlook. But, staying active when the weather is less than favorable is not always the easiest thing to do.
Being from Minnesota, we know how easy it is to get cabin fever during the long, cold winter months. And, while there are many outdoor wheelchair activities, like adaptive alpine or cross country skiing, to participate in, we know not everyone has the equipment necessary to participate in or access to these outdoor activities. So, how can wheelchair users stay active during the winter months? We put together a list of indoor wheelchair sports and other activities to help keep individuals busy and active all winter long.
Volleyball is a great activity for wheelchair users because the sport primarily utilizes the upper body. In sitting volleyball, players must sit on the ground throughout gameplay and at least one buttock must remain in contact with the floor at all times. This version of the sport uses a shorter net, otherwise all gameplay is the same as in standing volleyball and players can bump, set and spike the ball over the net.
Basketball is one sport where wheelchair users do not need any special equipment for. Wheelchair basketball is played with many of the same rules as able-body basketball, with a few slight variations for dribbling and wheelchair contact. You can play wheelchair basketball on any court, indoor or outdoor, and many states have teams that play in leagues and in tournaments. Organized teams playing wheelchair basketball are governed by the National Wheelchair Basketball Association (NWBA). If you are interested in finding a team to play on, you can visit their website here.
This sport is designed specifically for power wheelchair users. It varies from traditional soccer, as it is played on a regulation basketball court (either indoors or outdoors) and each team is made up of only four players. Much like traditional soccer, there is one goal keeper on each side that tries to keep the other team from scoring.
For Power Soccer, the soccer ball is 18 inches in diameter, which is double the size of a traditional soccer ball, and is made of a harder plastic. The ball is pushed around the court with foam pads that are attached to the front of each player’s wheelchair, and players try to score points by getting the ball past the goal keeper.
Other Indoor Activities
While organized indoor sports are a great way to stay active, not everyone has organized adaptive sports in their area. For this reason, we also put together a short list of individual activities that wheelchair users can participate in during the winter months.
Swimming is a great way for wheelchair users to stay recreational indoors during the winter months. Generally adaptive swimming does not require any special equipment and many wheelchair users find that exercising in the pool is much less strenuous.
While no adaptive equipment is necessary for swimming, we should note that some wheelchair users need the assistance of a lift to get into the pool. Not all pools are required to have this lift, so it is best to check with your local pool to see if they have one prior to going for the first time.
Hand cycling is essentially adaptive biking. Wheelchair users can pedal a special trike using their hands from either a seated or reclined position. Hand cycling can be done indoors with a stationary unit or outdoors with the modified bike. Hand cycling is also a competitive sport including within the Paralympics and within triathlons.
Lifting weights is a great way to stay active and strengthen your muscles, and also a great individual way to keep active during the winter months. This can be done right from your wheelchair with hand weights and either in the gym or from the comfort of your own home. You can find adaptive workouts that can be done with the use of weights on YouTube or by doing a quick Google search.
How to Get Started
If you are looking to get started with an adaptive sport or activity, you can reach out to local community centers, athletic facilities and gyms to find out which ones are available in your area. You can also check with the Wheelchair Sports Federation, as they may be able to connect you directly with wheelchair sport teams in your area.
Helping You Get Where You Want to Go
At Rollx Vans, we know how important it is for our customers to stay active, especially during the colder months. That’s why we strive to help each and every one of our customers get a wheelchair van that can help them get to every destination in a safe and easy way. Want to learn more about how we can help you get where you want to go? Contact one of our handicap vans sales representatives today to learn more.