Para Sport Opens Doors for Physically Disabled Runners

Para Sport Opens Doors for Physically Disabled Runners

“If you have a body, you’re an athlete” – Bill Bowerman, Nike co-founder

Need another reason to keep your family moving right now? A study recently published in the Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities found that children and young adults with a physical disability received a measurable boost in self-confidence after participating in a community running program.

The researchers were hoping to find ways to break a cycle of low self-perception that is typical for this at-risk demographic. That low self-esteem, they have found, tends to lead to decreased exercise and impaired health and functioning, which in turn leads to even lower self-perception. “Any intervention that broadly improves quality of life for a child with a chronic condition is worth continuing to explore,” says Jennifer Angeli, the lead researcher on the study.

Participants in the study were aged 7 to 24 years old with a range of disabilities, but the highest reported was cerebral palsy. The group, divided up based on ability in order to promote peer motivation, met twice a week for ten weeks.

The program was designed similar to a couch to 5k concept. They started by learning about and practicing run/walk intervals, moved on to improving endurance, and tapered their exercise in the final two weeks, leading up to their actual 5k race.

Afterwards, the participants self-reported on their progress and the results showed an increase in self-perceived appearance and athletic…

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