All children need the same amount of physical activity. However, this can be hard for children who have disabilities because less exercise activities are available for them. According to World Health Organization, “All children need to accumulate 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity activity throughout the day.” When children with disabilities can engage in recreational activities it helps them feel included and enhances their physical abilities. Children with disabilities have a higher risk of developing obesity because they are often restricted in how much they can participate in. This effects their level of fitness. Due to the fact that disabilities cause children to have decreased abilities in fitness, their “cardiorespiratory endurance, muscle strength, balance, coordination, and motor skills” also decrease.
Aquatic exercise programs have been tested to help increase the level of fitness for these children. Children with disabilities receive greater benefits than others do from the physical activity that aquatics provides. Because water causes people to have the ability to float without much effort, children with disabilities who normally have mobility difficulties are able to act more independently and with more motion in a water environment. Swimming also strengthens the muscles that stabilize the body. The article says, “Adapted aquatics also enhances breath control, upper-body strength, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness”
Water activities are not just for exercise but can help a child’s development psychosocially and cognitively. Through research, studies have shown that when children with autism perform activities in the water, the amount of normal movements associated with autism including spinning, swinging, and delayed echolalia decreases. In addition to all these benefits, children with disabilities also increase their self-esteem and self-awareness by being able to perform many movements in the water independently. Water provides needed therapy in a way that also enhances the children’s learning.
Benefits have also been seen in surf programs designed for children with disabilities. Surfing provides these children with repetition and a sport that is done individually. The ocean proves to be a beneficial therapeutic ground for children with disabilities, and surfing is just another helpful activity for these children to engage in. A surf instruction program began as a way to teach children with disabilities and to adapt to their specific conditions and needs. At the end of this program, improvements were largely seen in these children both physically and socially. Many gained a new motivation for physical activity and a love for the ocean. Social improvements were also made as children engaged with instructors and participants. They gained more “self-confidence, social skills, and physical fitness” through the therapeutic surf program.

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