Exercise, Sports & Recreation

Taryn (3 years old) with PT doing assisted walking and stair climbing

Exercise and physical activity are important for the health and well-being of everyone, yet this area is overlooked for people with cerebral palsy.

Too often, people with cerebral palsy from the early years through adulthood are forced to the sidelines and/or not encouraged when it comes to school sports and recess, community exercise and fitness programming, represented on sports teams or welcomed in a variety of recreational and exercise settings. The Cerebral Palsy Foundation is working to change the status quo by raising awareness, collaborating with stakeholders, schools, institutions, policy makers and other experts to level the playing field.

Participating in a favorite sport or fitness game is often a fundamental part of childhood and a way for children to make friends, learn to work as part of a team, learn independence, get exercise, and of course, have fun! For a child with cerebral palsy, it’s important to encourage interests and skills as early as possible – including the physical activity and the belief that a person with cerebral palsy can be active for life.

For adolescent and adult with cerebral palsy, there are a wide range of activities and interests to be involved in that will improve both mental and physical health as well as prevent physical decline that is associated with sedentary lifestyles. The Cerebral Palsy Foundation is committed to helping people with cerebral palsy become active for life and at every GMFCS level. Don’t stay on the sidelines! Let us help you get involved and get healthier.

Taking part in physical activity, adaptive sports and exercise can help maintain and improve physical health, but that’s not all.  Getting active can offer many mental, emotional, and social benefits too including:

  • Improved quality of life, including mood and well-being
  • Increased muscle strength, bone health and stamina
  • Reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Improved social life and family life
     

In addition to several research-based exercise, sports and fitness initiatives, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation created a free downloadable fitness “challenge app” in 2018 called Evolve 21 that generated a community of over 5000 users in less than 8 weeks.  We’re currently updating the app to make it the premier fitness app for people with cerebral palsy and individuals of all abilities. It will include the latest evidence for adaptive training for individuals with cerebral palsy and be ready for re-release in late 2021 in partnership with leading experts in the field.


 

"Cerebral" refers to the brain "palsy" refers to the loss of motor function

Contributors
Cynthia Frisina
Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Cerebral Palsy Foundation
Dr. Byron Lai, PhD
University of Alabama at Birmingham, Children’s Hospital of Alabama, Lakeshore Foundation
Jennifer Lyman
Cerebral Palsy Resource Content Manager, AACPDM Community Council Member