5 Reasons Why Wheelchair Marathons are Fun and Important
In 1960, 400 athletes from 23 different countries participated in the first-ever Paralympic games.
Since that time, the number of disabled athletes participating in sports has grown exponentially. Today, a popular way of getting involved in sport is participating in a wheelchair marathon.
If you're living in a wheelchair and you like to get active, wheelchair marathons are an accessible place to start. They come along with a host of benefits that range from keeping life fun to improving mental health.
Below are 5 reasons why you might consider a wheelchair marathon. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Better Physical Health
Exercise is arguably more important for someone with a disability than it is for someone without. Not only is it important for keeping up fitness, strength, balance, and reducing the risk of atrophy, but regular physical activity can also improve your quality of life. And that's especially true for aerobic exercises, like running a wheelchair marathon.
2. Improved Mental Health
When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, serotonin, and other "feel good" chemicals. Increased levels of these natural chemicals can regulate and improve your mood, reduce stress dramatically, and even help you with better sleep patterns.
Over time, as you participate in sport and your body produces more of these chemicals, you'll notice an improvement in your mental health in general. These mental and emotional benefits are both immediate and long-lasting. They include a reduction in anxiety and depression, greater self-esteem, and a sense of self-efficacy.
3. Improved Self-Confidence
People with disabilities face a number of barriers in everyday life. When trying to get involved in sport, those barriers are even more pronounced.
But once you get involved in sports like a wheelchair marathon, you'll learn that any limiting presumptions you had were only that: presumptions. Through sport, you'll learn to see yourself with a greater sense of self-confidence.
That's because self-confidence is linked to how positively you feel about yourself. And when you succeed at training and racing, you build self-confidence and self-esteem.
4. Meet Like-Minded People
Potentially one of the most fun parts of getting involved in wheelchair marathons is meeting like-minded people and combatting social isolation. Although it's largely a solo sport, if you participate in local and regional races, you're sure to notice the same faces over and over again. Over time those familiar faces will become your friends and your social circle will expand.
Having a greater social circle of people who enjoy similar things is extremely important. That network can provide more than camaraderie. They'll also become an important aspect of your emotional support and can also be a great source for resources.
5. Countering of Stigmatization
Although the first Paralympic games took place all the way back in 1960, there's still quite a bit of stigmatization around disabled people participating in sport. That stigma not only affects the public at large but may also affect your own limiting beliefs about what you can and cannot do from a wheelchair.
But by training hard and participating in wheelchair marathons, you're part of countering that stigmatization. You're helping to show the world that disabled people have just as much drive and ability as able-bodied people.
Start Training for a Wheelchair Marathon
Getting involved in a wheelchair marathon is a great way to get the physical activity you need. But it also has benefits for your mental health, for your self-confidence, and for your social life. You're also playing an important role in countering stigma by training hard and participating on race day.
When you're ready to start training, you need the right tools for the job. Check out our mobility solutions and find out how we can help.
Windy City Weekend: Chicago with the Twardowskis
Universal Design 101 with Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D.
Tips for Traveling in a Wheelchair Van
The Top 10 Wheelchair Accessible Cities of the US
5 Ways Universal Design Affects Everyone
A Road Trip Checklist Making Accessible Trips More Fun
Songs of Love Foundation Writes Unique Songs for Sick Kids
Some Words of Wisdom for the Newly Diagnosed
Service Dogs: Challenges and Rewards of Owning One
SAWs Builds Ramps to the World