Output 6

Checklist: Challenges and tips concerning sports and physical activity for people with disabilities or chronic health conditions

(Read the main document before using the checklist.)

Regular exercise contributes to good health and improves quality of life. Physical activity also positively affects people’s social life, from social participation to general well-being. These positive effects of physical activity apply to everyone: young and old, healthy people and those with a chronic health condition or physical or mental disabilities.

Below, we provide an overview of the challenges people with disabilities or chronic conditions may face when it comes to sports and physical activity. We then offer some tips for promoting physical activity and sports.

Do you (people with disabilities or chronic health conditions) face the following challenges?YesJust a bitNoDon’t know
Difficulties in finding a suitable programme
Lack of suitably trained coaches and volunteers
Transport to sports and exercise facilities is difficult
Financial obstacles that make it difficult to purchase sports and exercise equipment or pay membership fees
Unclear or limited reimbursement regulations for sports equipment and transport
Negative experiences with coaches or teammates who do not sufficiently take my disability into account or forget about it
Not feeling welcome due to an unwelcoming attitude on the part of some sports and exercise providers
A: People with a physical disability (motor skills)
Do you (people with impaired motor skills) face the following specific challenges?YesJust a bitNoDon’t know
Functioning difficulties related to muscle and/or joint impairments
Fatigue easily and require frequent short breaks
Experience pain, in general and while exercising, however, physical activity can alleviate pain
Limited access to facilities due to issues such as stairs, too small toilets, narrow doors, no lift
Limited access to easily enter and exit a swimming pool
I require assistance when changing or using the toilet and this help is not (always) provided
Difficulties taking part in team sports, especially competitive activities
B: People with a sensory Impairment (visual impairment, hearing impairment)
Do you (people with a visual impairment) face the following specific challenges?YesJust a bitNoDon’t know
Need for a buddy to help me engage in sports or physical activity
Need for support with orientation, of the facilities and the activities
Palpable, and/or audible difficulties in finding sports and game materials
Guidance required in setting up and regulating fitness equipment
Difficulties in engaging in social contact after sports
Difficulties in reaching a sports facility if it is located outside the city
Do you (people with a hearing impairment) face the following specific challenges?YesJust a bitNoDon’t know
Communication during coaching or team games
Interaction with the referee
Feeling excluded among hearing team members, also after sports
C: People with an intellectual disability (cognitive)
Do you (people with an intellectual disability (cognitive)) face the following specific challenges?YesJust a bitNoDon’t know
To participate in physical activities I require a high level of social support ranging from transport to self-care to one-on-one support during activities.
Parents and support staff underestimate my physical abilities
Assistance required for transport to a sports facility
In my social environment there is little understanding or recognition of the importance and value of sports and physical activity
I have little or no experience with sports because of fewer opportunities to explore physical activities when growing up
I need some time to transition or adjust to a new environment or unfamiliar aspects of sports or physical activity
Exercise is not included in the policy of care and residential facilities and programmes that I experienced
D: People with a chronic health condition
Do you (people with a chronic health condition) face the following specific challenges?YesJust a bitNoDon’t know
Low motivation to exercise
Limited knowledge of the positive effects and advantages of exercise, or exercising more
Concerns that exercise might exacerbate symptoms (when in fact, when done carefully, it can improve symptoms)
Health and mobility difficulties and fear of falling down or creating new injuries
Limited experience of physical exercise
Pain and fatigue due to the chronic health condition
Insufficient training of school teachers to address students’ symptoms or health conditions, like asthma, during physical education lessons

General and specific tips for promoting sports and physical activity

Below are general and specific tips for promoting sports and physical activity: tips for sport and exercise providers, for athletes, for caretakers and coaches, and for policy makers and educators.

  • Create an up-to-date and easily accessible overview of sports and exercise programmes
  • Make sure people know where to go for advice and coaching
  • If possible, create sports and exercise programmes close to where people live and customise the programmes on offer (level and type of activity) for specific groups
  • Organise sports and physical activity programmes at regional level; collaborate across municipal borders
  • Advise sports and exercise providers in developing suitable programmes and embedding these programmes and athletes with disabilities within organisations
  • Help people understand what sports and physical activities they can engage in
  • Make parents and caretakers aware of the importance of sports and physical activity
  • Advise people personally on their choice of sports or physical activity, and make sure your advice matches the person’s motivation
  • Make people aware of and responsible for their sports/exercising behaviour
  • Give people simple tips to include physical activity in everyday life
  • Assist and coach people the first time they visit a sports or exercise facility
  • Involve sports and exercise providers and other athletes in solving potential bottlenecks and barriers
  • Initiate and organise collaboration between social/welfare and sports organisations to better match supply and demand
  • Organise a powerful multidisciplinary network surrounding individuals with a disability or chronic condition or create a single point of contact (for example a sports coach) to link individuals’ wishes to available sports or exercise programmes
  • Work with professional, competent coaches and instructors who can create a safe sport and exercise environment and make athletes feel at home
  • As a coach or instructor, make sure you know the participants’ names and understand their condition, and make sure your coaching is attuned to their needs
  • As a coach or instructor, make contact with participants, make sure they can hear you, see you, and understand your explanations or instructions
  • As a coach or trainer, don’t use too many words, but instead show by example
  • As a coach or trainer, create positive and avoid negative experiences
  • Give constructive and specific feedback during sports and physical activity
  • Engage sport buddies to assist participants in sports and physical activity
  • When in a team, use a buddy (or a sign language interpreter)
  • Create a convivial atmosphere and a social sports and exercise network
  • Integrate physical activity in care institutions’ policy and in the work of their staff
  • Develop a knowledge portal with instruction videos for buddies and athletes
  • Organise joint sports and exercise activities for people with and without disabilities or chronic conditions to improve visibility and acceptance of athletes with disabilities and promote interpersonal helpfulness
  • Facilitate sport educational programmes, and make sure these programmes have information about sports and physical activity for people with disabilities or a chronic condition
  • Make sure medicine educational programmes and other educational caretaker programmes devote structural attention to the health benefits of physical activity, in particular for people with a visual or motor skills impairment and people with a chronic condition
  • Make sure there is a sufficient number of adjusted, accessible sports accommodations where people with physical disabilities can engage in sports and physical activity
  • Develop or improve transport options (for example by carpooling or volunteers)
  • Create a clear, broadly available reimbursement regulation to compensate transport costs and costs of special sports aid resources (like sports wheelchairs or sports protheses)
  • Together, celebrate the successes and share the experiences of disabled athletes, their coaches and caretakers