January is Family Fit Lifestyle Month, the perfect excuse to get your family off the couch and moving. But if one of your children has a disability, you may think it's impossible to find something the whole family can participate in.
Well, not only is it not impossible, it's extremely important. According to the President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, the obesity rate in children with disabilities is an astounding 38% higher than in children without disabilities. Exercise can help reduce the chance of your child developing chronic and secondary conditions, and it also provides the added benefits of increased self-esteem and greater socialization. But even if your child can't be physically involved, she can participate. It's easier than you think.
Plan It Out
You know your child's abilities better than anyone. Get creative and come up with some ides together. If your child is unable to walk, swimming may be a great option.
Change the way you view exercise. If your child doesn't weigh too much for you to carry her, get a special backpack to include her in your walks or hikes. Purchase a adaptive bike for your child to use or ride in with you.
Your local parks and recreation department may have inclusive recreation programs available including baseball teams, dance classes, martial arts classes, and gym memberships. All you have to do is ask.
Do It for Charity
Sign your family up for a charity walk-a-thon or 5k. Your child will love having the wind in her hair as you guide her and her chair to the finish line.
Lessons such as horseback riding work double-time as therapy for children with disabilities from cerebral palsy to vision impairments. Horseback riding in particular has been shown to improve muscle tone, balance, posture, coordination, motor development, and self-esteem according to Kids Rein.
Pick a Sport
Most sports can be adapted for children with disabilities including golf, soccer, archery, biking, baseball, skiing, and water sports.
Check It Out
There are more opportunities and ideas available at I Can Do It, You Can Do It.
There are plenty of opportunities to include your child with disabilities in your family exercise routine. It will benefit your entire family to make sure each member is included in the fun. Chat with your child's doctors before hand to make sure any activity you pick is appropriate and safe for your child's needs.