Adaptive Sports

Introduction to Para Sports or Adaptive Sports

Adaptive sports or para sports are any kind of sport that has been adapted or modified to accommodate participants with physical disabilities.  These accommodations include changes to rules and equipment.  Countless people – from those who compete in the Paralympic Games to those who play for fun – have shown that there are virtually no limits to what can be done with a little support.

Reasons for People with Disabilities to Participate in Adaptive Sports
Participating in sports does more for people than give them a fun way to be active and competitive.  The health benefits are tremendous.  A few of the health benefits associated with playing sports include:

  • Strong heart, lungs and bones
  • Toned muscles
  • Blood sugar reduction
  • Weight management
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Balanced cholesterol levels
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Stronger immunity
  • Increased energy levels
  • Cancer prevention

A few commonly cited benefits of playing sports, aside from the health-related ones, include:

  • Boosted self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Discipline
  • Respect
  • Calmness
  • Teamwork
  • Mood improvement
  • Better concentration
  • Stress and depression reduction
  • Improved sleep habits

Adaptive Sports in Action (2:11)
This video, from Disabled Sports USA will change the way you think about disabilities and what is possible.  It shows a variety of adaptive sports from wheelchair racing and rock climbing to sailing and water skiing.


A story in The Baltimore Sun, about the 9th Annual Adapted Sports Festival, shares exciting stories about people who have adapted to their disabilities and showcases a number of adaptive sports.

This video, included with The Baltimore Sun Article, showcases a few of the featured adaptive sports.

Directory of Programs and Activities for People with Disabilities
This directory, developed and maintained by National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), provides lists of sports, fitness and recreational programs and activities for people with disabilities.   It can be sorted by name, state or country, or by a specific zip code.

Learn More About Adaptive Sports and Join the Fun
For people with a disability, staying active is incredibly important for both the mental and physical benefits.  Adaptive sports provide a wide variety of opportunities to engage in sports for both recreation and competition.  Below are links to other posts that provide specific information about a variety of adaptive sports or para sports.

Be Safe
Check with your doctor, if you’re not sure if a particular activity is safe for you or should be modified in any way to accommodate you.

And, always be sure that you have the right safety and protective gear when it’s recommended (e.g., helmets for handcycling, personal flotation device for paddle sports).

Additional Resources
Learn about para sports events to get an idea about what’s out there and to find some ways to participate.

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