Everyone is looking to have some fun, regardless of their physical abilities and the good news is that we can all have fun engaging in various outdoor adventures. Adults with disabilities might have a much narrower choice of fun outdoor activities, but there are still plenty of physical activities they can participate in which will help with the development of fine motor skills, physical well-being, and mental health!
Most of the activities listed below are only possible because of the extraordinary people who loved doing them and wanted to continue even after they ended up in a wheelchair. They didn’t let their circumstances dictate their way of life, and neither should you. So, read on to learn more about the fun outdoor activities for adults with disabilities, and figure out what sounds most exciting to you!
Adaptive paddleboarding has emerged in the past few years, and it’s an extremely fun and exciting way of outdoor recreation for adults with disabilities. It’s a fun water sport that’s great for aerobic exercise, improving your physical skills, and also your mental health. All you need for wheelchair paddleboarding is a board with adaptive equipment and you’re set!
They’re made by Access Revolution, and it’s worth noting that this company has quite a few other products that can make the great outdoors more accessible to wheelchair-bound people. This includes a foldable pathway, a motorized wheelchair specifically designed to tackle rocky mountain terrain and adaptive boards for paddleboarding.
The boards are designed to accommodate most manual wheelchairs, and they will work with most wheelchair ramps. You can even customize the texture and color of your board to make it really your own.
Biking is one of the sports that remains accessible to nearly everyone, regardless of their physical abilities. There are a handful of adaptive bikes, each designed to bypass a specific disability.
Handcycles are most popular with riders who have mobility impairments in their lower limbs. They are mostly three-wheeled cycles that are entirely controlled with arms, so they’re great for people who can’t use their legs.
Tandem bikes are also popular, and they’re available in a lot of different setups. The most common one is a two-wheeled bike with two seats. The guide sits in the front and does most of the heavy lifting, while the other adult mostly just enjoys the ride.
There are also cycles specifically designed for lower-extremity cycling, and these are best for adults with disabilities in their upper limbs. Overall, cycling remains one of the most accessible sports for people with disabilities, as well as one of the most fun outdoor activities for everyone.
Adaptive skiing is probably one of the most fun winter sports for special needs skiers of all ages. There are a total of six different disciplines in adaptive skiing – bi-ski, 3-track, 4-track, mono-ski, visually impaired, and developmental. Also, most public ski sites (in the US) are required to provide adaptive equipment for skiers with disabilities, and this includes guides for the visually impaired.
Bi-skis are for people with weakness or disability in the lower extremities. It’s basically a sit-down ski that lets you experience the thrill of skiing even if you’re not capable of standing on your own two legs.
Two-track skis are designed for skiers who are able to stand but who require some additional support. There’s also good for people with impaired hearing and visual abilities, as well as for anyone with cognitive or developmental disabilities.
The three and four-track are also designed for people who can stand up but require additional support, so amputees, those suffering from arthritis, cerebral palsy, etc.
There are also ski bikes, which are the latest piece of adaptive equipment for skiing. It’s pretty much a bike with skis in the place of wheels, and it’s a very popular piece of equipment in Europe.
Wheelchair hiking is one of the most fun outdoor activities for adults with disabilities. National parks in particular are becoming really good at making their hiking trails accessible to wheelchair-bound people by widening the paths and making them smoother.
These are mostly easy and short hiking paths, usually loop trails at the base of a park or near a lake. High-altitude hiking trails are still not very wheelchair accessible, especially those with steep inclines. However, it is possible to purchase a hiking mobile, so to speak, which allows wheelchair-bound adults to conquer some more challenging hiking terrain.
If you’re just getting into wheelchair hiking, look for a more accessible site at first. Once you’ve mastered lake loops and other easy trails, you can move on to more challenging adventures in the great outdoors.
Boating is another one of the many outdoor sports that remains accessible to almost everyone. Adaptive boating and sailing remain accessible to wheelchair users, with countless programs in countries all over the world.
The Wheelyboat association is a pioneer of this activity in the UK. They provide various organizations and venues with wheelchair-accessible boats, and they’re the only organization of its kind in Europe.
That’s not to say that it’s not possible to find adaptive boating options outside of the UK. There are plenty of other organizations that offer adaptive boating and sailing throughout the world, it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you.
Boating and fishing go hand in hand and that’s why fishing is one of the best outdoor activities for people with disabilities, particularly those who are wheelchair-bound. Fishing includes mostly just sitting and waiting, so you’re not even sacrificing any part of the experience.
With adaptive fishing equipment, disabled adults won’t require any help to reel in their catches. There’s everything from motorized rods to machines that are capable of casting the reel at the press of a button, allowing fishing to remain accessible to almost everyone.
Camping is one of those fun outdoor activities that’s suitable for everyone, regardless of their abilities. Get together with your closest friends and family, load up the car with all the necessary camping gear, and head to the best campsite near you!
Nowadays, there are a lot of campsites that are adjusted for people with disabilities, so it shouldn’t be too challenging to find one suitable for you. Look for accessible sites at national parks as well – in addition to having accessible campsites adapted to people with disabilities, it’s more likely that a national park will offer a selection of wheelchair-accessible trails as well.
Ice skating is an incredibly fun activity that remains accessible to wheelchair users and adults with other kinds of disabilities. Adaptive ice skating equipment has come a long way, and nowadays there’s everything from specialized skates and adaptive ice skating walkers to equipment that allows ice skating in a sitting position.
Depending on where you’re situated in the world, you can either purchase this equipment or rent it for the ice skating session. The good news is that all the adaptive ice skating equipment is designed to fold and be super portable, so it’s easy to transport it to the rink.
It’s definitely a good idea to get this equipment for yourself – then you can go to any ice skating rink you want, and you don’t have to look specifically for a rink that caters to disabled skaters.
Horseback riding can be adapted to the abilities of each rider, and it’s one of the most fun activities adults with disabilities can engage in. Even if you don’t have any previous horseback riding experience, you can start off as a total newbie regardless of your physical abilities.
Adaptive riding is amazing because it has countless benefits. It will certainly improve the quality of life of the rider because it provides them with a unique opportunity to bond with the horse, peers, and all the instructors. It’s also a chance to connect with others who share similar interests and make new friends.
Those are mostly just the benefits horseback riding can have on your way of life and mental health. The physical benefits of horseback riding include improving your general flexibility, muscle strength, and overall balance.
The only requirement for adults and kids is that they’re capable of keeping their heads upright (important because of the helmet), and that they’re not a danger to themselves or others around them.
More traditional sports have become accessible to disabled adults over the years, and nowadays it’s possible to participate in most team sports even if you’re living with certain disabilities. Popular sports for wheelchair users include basketball, tennis, volleyball, quad rugby, and even sled hockey, so there are plenty of activities to choose from!
Although some of these sports are usually performed indoors, most of them are done outdoors so they’re perfectly viable outdoor activities for adults with disabilities. There are groups and clubs that meet up and do these things every weekend, and you can always join one such group if that sounds like something you would like.
The main advantage of participating in adaptive team sports is the countless benefits that can have for your physical and mental health. It helps improve motor skills, it’s great for mobility, and it allows you to meet people with at least one shared interest.
Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.