So we are 8 weeks into this new and uncharted world we find ourselves in, and by now, like many other members of our great county, you are probably starting to exhaust the ‘go-to’ options at your disposal. This could seem like its never been more true than for physical activity! I mean, in regular times staying motivated can be a challenge for some, so with the current uncertainly and added restrictions, it can feel like you’re trying to ice-skate uphill – not impossible, but no easy task – even for the most proficient of skaters!
So now lets add another layer of consideration; you, yourself, or somebody you love and/or care for who has additional needs – how can we ensure that we too are getting the support to achieve those all-important physical,mental, social and emotional benefits that physical activity brings? How can we be more physically active at home if someone has additional needs?
Well, the good news is our imagination can really help when it comes to any form of physical activity. Depending on the ability and specific requirements of the person with additional needs there is still a plethora of ideas that we can try, so let’s dive in...
Potato golf/croquet. All you need is some cardboard boxes, scissors and sticky-back plastic (retro through back comment there!).This can take the morning to create, and then you and your loved ones can spend the rest of that day setting it up and playing it. Now we’re not bias in favour of potatoes so any small, tough and roundish fruit or vegetable will do, and of course if you have a small plastic (or similar) ball to hand, you could always use this – but where’s the fun in that! What about the mallets/clubs? I hear you say, well that’s okay too, because you can always grab a small headed broom, turn it upside down, and hey presto, an ad-lib club! You could also use your off cut cardboard to also make a mallet/club, both work perfectly!
Obstacle course. You could create a homemade obstacle course in or outside of your house. This could be quite simple, maybe a long dash, a slalom around some markers, a zig-zag through section and a long dash back to the start. Or if you have things like planks of wood for balance related activities, sticks and string for hurdles or bridges to duck under and cardboard for tunnels lying around, you could go full Ninja Warrior if you like– there’s no rules here guys. All you need to do is make it fully inclusive for all who are going to partake, by carefully planning the course, but like we said - there are no rules!
Physical Games. So the list here is extensive, and won’t be fully exhaustive in this article, but the key to this, is the thought process – think fun! Games could include: bulldog, tag, dodge ball, duck-duck-goose and hide and seek to name a few.
Seated balloon volleyball. Another great idea, assuming you have a space large enough, would be to adapt the game of volleyball, by replacing the ball with an inflated balloon, and all players are seated on chairs. The aim is still to keep the balloon off the ground, and volley between the two teams until it is dropped. As for the net, if you have along piece of string and some ribbons, or our old favourite -cardboard, you can cut these into strips and thread them onto the string, and there you go, a make-shift net. Tie it onto something at both sides of the space you are playing, and you are good to go. If you want to increase the intensity you can replace the balloon with a football (or similar), and if all players are able to stand, then remove the chairs – a game that almost anybody can play!
Virtual gym sessions. There has been a huge increase in the amount of virtual exercise sessions being offered during the lockdown, and if you know where to look, they can be free and very easy to access. Joe Wickes has committed to doing the nations PE lessons every day during the lockdown, and so takes a morning exercise session that anybody can partake in. If you’re looking a little closer to home we are offering access to all One You Lincolnshire clients on any of our four key pathways (Stop Smoking, Eat Well & Lose Weight, Move More, or Drink Less), free access to our very own virtual gym environment: The Other Room Virtual Gym. There is a mixture of live and recorded fitness sessions available throughout the week and range in intensity from chair-based sessions, through to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) sessions.
Fast forwarding a little to when the lockdown restrictions are over, or at least the restrictions have been reduced somewhat, it’s important to keep the new levels of physical activity going. As a county we are very fortunate as we have a lot of specifically set up groups that can offer additional support for those with additional needs to be more physically active.
Active Lincolnshire. Having a county-wide approach, Active Lincolnshire have fantastic connections with many of the county’s activity providers, and can offer additional information on; wheelchair sports, inclusive sports clubs and a range of inclusive activities hosted directly by Active Lincolnshire such as Boccia and New Age Kurling. A really worthwhile website to access, and can be found at https://activelincolnshire.com/getactive/inclusive-activities/.
Ten Pin Bowling. This is a great inclusive activity, as with the use of a ramp and barriers, anybody can play, and mark my words, it can become extremely competitive, extremely quickly! Washingborough (just outside of Lincoln) has an alley that can be accessed, but 5 other alleys are spread through the county including Boston, Cleethorpes, Grantham, Ancaster and Spalding.
Health Walks Programme or recreational outdoor activities. Walking for health has a huge programme covering every corner of Lincolnshire with risk assessed pre-set routes, led by trained health walk leaders that can be accessed, and in certain areas have additional needs specific walks too. A good place to start looking for these is https://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/walkfinder. But if you don’t want the social element, then try and enjoy the beautiful countryside of Lincolnshire by going for a picnic, walk or even bike ride, the possibilities are endless!
Social Support Groups. It is easy to start to feel a little isolated at times, and this is could really be the case given the current situations. Two really good places locally to help connect you to support groups are Lincolnshire’s Connect 2 Support directory https://lincolnshire.connecttosupport.org/ , and Just Lincolnshire https://www.justlincolnshire.org.uk/resources/disability/ who offer a great level of resources and helpful information, which can never hurt to know about.
Finally, there are a wealth of national organisations that are designed to offer sport and physical activity programmes from an inclusive or condition specific perspective. Again, a non-exhaustive list of these include:
· Cycling UK offer information on tandem or specifically adapted bicycles. https://www.cyclinguk.org/community-outreach/inclusive-cycling-network
So whatever your situation, and whatever your requirements are, there is support out there, and just like anything else, fun is the key to making physical activity long-lasting and effective.
Interested in finding out about our Move More Programme? go to https://www.oneyoulincolnshire.org.uk/lincolnshire-residents
Trevor Mealing, One You Lincolnshire Get Healthy, Get Active Lead
May 12, 2020