7 Recreational Sports for Wheelchair Users

Content via Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation

There are many recreational sports available for wheelchair users to try. Maybe you want to get some light exercise, or perhaps you just want to hang out with friends while enjoying an activity together. Here’s some great sports to choose from.


This is a great activity that can be played against other wheelchair users or able-bodied individuals, as many of the rules are the same regardless of whether you are sitting or standing. Modified pool cues and other adaptive attachments are available for those with limited hand control.


What began as a therapeutic activity for disabled World War II veterans has become an increasingly popular recreational sport for wheelchair users. There are several adaptive bowling devices available for both paraplegics and quadriplegics, though if the individual has good upper body control, often no adaptive equipment is necessary.

man in a wheelchair throws a bowling ball down a lane

Paraplegic bowlers George Holscher and Shawn Beam have both bowled perfect 300s!


Sometimes escaping the hustle bustle of life and connecting with nature is what you need to recharge. Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, U.S. national parks are wheelchair friendly with accessible accommodations and (relatively) flat ground to make rolling easier. It’s always a good idea to research a camping destination before heading out. Knowing what accommodations exist and what additional accessories you will have to pack will make your camping trip more satisfying and less frustrating.


Maybe you want to try a sport with a view. As long as you have good head control (a must for anyone piloting an aircraft), being a wheelchair user won’t hold you back. There are many professional organizations that can connect you with the flying experience you want, including some that have adapted aircraft like Freedom’s Wings International located in New Jersey.


If staying on the ground is more your speed, try gardening. With its therapeutic tendency, gardening “can foster a sense of expectation, of accomplishment, self-reliance and responsibility.” Many wheelchair users choose to garden using raised beds and special tools. A quick online search can present a lot of useful gardening tips.


“The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all public accommodations, including golf courses, to provide goods and services to people with disabilities on an equal basis with the rest of the general public.” Also, many golf courses offer accommodations such as modified golf carts with swivel seats and custom clubs. You will want to call ahead to verify which accommodations are in place at your chosen course.

Hand Cycling

Hand cycling has gained popularity worldwide, and is a sport that can be enjoyed recreationally or on a competitive level (think Paralympics!). It’s a great way to get exercise while on a solo ride, or you can join other cyclists (both hand-cyclists and able-bodied bike riders) for a group ride. Some wheelchair companies even offer handcycle lines.

Are you a wheelchair user who loves recreational sports? Send us your story, and you might be featured on AbleThrive!

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