Best Outdoor Activities for Adults with Disabilities

It is widely acknowledged that spending time outside can be good for both physical and mental health. That is true for children, and it is true for adults. Day programs for adults with disabilities should bear this in mind when designing their curriculum. The best outdoor activities can provide multiple opportunities for different types of engagement, improving overall quality of life.

The importance of outdoor activities in day programs for adults with disabilities

Day programs often focus on allowing students to develop the practical and academic skills they need for adult living. From the everyday household tasks necessary to maintain a home to the basics of employment or further education, they are targeted at helping adults with learning disabilities, autism and similar spectrum – achieve what they want in life. Focusing on outdoor activities may seem a distraction from this, but they can actually be a way to build skills in areas like concentration, teamwork, communication and self-regulation. They can be a fun and engaging way to improve health and increase self-confidence, all valuable aims.

Connecting with nature

Many people with intellectual disabilities enjoy animals and nature. For example, horseback riding has long been used as a form of therapy. Nature-based activities can be as simple as taking a walk through the woods, providing an opportunity to breathe the fresh air, experience new kinds of sensory stimulation and learn more about the world.

Another way to appreciate nature whilst remaining close to home is gardening. This can be a highly tactile experience, again with lots of opportunities for sensory engagement. Planting seeds and watching them grow can inspire a unique sense of satisfaction, building a sense of achievement and pride.

Physical activity

Stepping outside obviously is the basic level of physical activity. Exercise is an important way to improve physical health, and for adults with mobility issues or coordination problems, which are common in autism, it is a chance to improve skills. It is also valuable for mental wellbeing. Just the process of exercising can release mood-boosting endorphins, as well as building confidence in the long-term.

Exercise can also improve social skills through team games. Set movement involves planning and memory for better cognition. Forms of activity can vary, from running to bowling to basketball to yoga. A good routine includes aerobic exercise, strength building and flexibility training. Day trips for sports that cannot be carried out at the day program’s facilities can provide even more opportunities to expand horizons, develop new skills and learn different things. At Brighton Launch, we include daily fitness classes to boost strength as well as improve their functional abilities.

Creative activities

Creative activities are often important to those with intellectual disabilities, but they can be adapted in innovative ways when they take place outside. Painting, paper māché, working with clay, music, dance etc. are all valuable forms of expression that are particularly important for adults who have communication difficulties. Doing these activities outside means more space, less concern about mess or noise and the chance to create on a new canvas.

There are many ways that outdoor activities can be beneficial to adults with disabilities of various kinds. These are just a few of the ways that they can be used not just to improve a range of practical skills, but also to help adults have enjoyable and rewarding experiences to improve their mood and self-esteem.

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