Exercise, sport and recreation

Exercise, sport and recreational activities are a great way for people with spinal cord injuries to improve their overall general health, physical and psychological wellbeing, quality of life and can assist with their activities of daily living.  It can also provide a great social environment and is a great way to meet new friends.

It is extremely important that prior to undertaking any exercise program or participating in any sport or recreational activity, that you receive clearance from your medical practitioner and consult an exercise physiologist or specialist to gain further information about specific exercise for your individual needs. 

Exercise Programs and Physical Activities

  • Spinal Cord Injuries Australia's NeuroMoves offers a suite of exercise services for people with a neurological condition or other physical disability across Australia in an accessible facility, at a range of price levels. We currently see adults and children with either a spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease or cerebral palsy and in the future we will welcome other neurological conditions.
  • Also based in Sydney is Wheelchair Sports NSW.  A wide range of wheelchair sporting events and programs for athletes of all ages and skill levels, in Sydney and across most of the state are supported and conducted by Wheelchair Sports NSW.
  • Sailability hosts social, recreational and competitive sailing activities for anyone with a disability. The small sail boats can be operated by an instructor and/or a passenger. Volunteers run 25 Sailability clubs in NSW.
  • If you live in Brisbane the Sporting Wheelies and Disabled Association of Qld offers a range of health and fitness programs.
  • If you live in Western Australia, Rebound WA help people with physical disabilities to engage in lifestyle, recreational and sporting activities. They have over 15 different sports wheelies can try - both socially and competitively. Contact them on 08 6143 5800, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit the website.
  • Take a look at www.physiotherapyexercises.com where you will find instructions on how to do various strengthening and range of motion exercises.  The manual is divided into sections targeted at different injury levels.  They are intended to be implemented in consultation with a physiotherapist to establish the best regime for you.
  • Disability Sports Australia is responsible for the administration of the Australian Sports Organisation for the Disabled (ASOD), Cerebral Palsy Sports and Recreation Federation of Australia (CPASRF) and Wheelchair Sports Australia (WSA). All three organisations are responsible for the development of sport for athletes with a disability and administer, promote and coordinate sporting opportunities.
  • Disabled WinterSport Australia (DWA) is a multi-faceted, self-help sporting organisation founded in 1978 by Australia's first Paralympic skier Ron Finneran and Canadian instructor Bruce Abel. The purpose of DWA is to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to enjoy winter sports and to enjoy the magnificent environment that is Australia's Snowy Mountains with fellow skiers.
  • Disabled Surfers Association of Australia has seven volunteer branches in NSW that hold regular surf days for people with any disability.
  • Many public and private swimming pools have a chair hoist and/or ramp to enable easy access into the water. Beach wheelchairs can be hired at some beaches and surf life saving clubs. Check council websites for availability.
  • The 12 AMF  tenpin bowling centres in NSW have ball ramps available for public use.
  • Riding for the Disabled provides suitable horses, trained volunteers, accredited coaches and equipment for a range of equestrian activities: riding classes, games, vaulting, dressage and equestrian camps.
  • For information about other sports see d-Ability.
  • How to Exercise if you are a wheelchair user. This website has some useful tips on how to exercise if you are a wheelchair user.
  • SCIA's SCI Resources Library - Sport and Recreation - has some great links to articles and resources about all kinds of sports and activities to get involved in - yoga, golf, scuba diving, boccia etc etc. Click on the link to check it out. 

Hiring or buying exercise equipment

Achievable Concepts sell a range of adaptive equipment for sports including swimming, golf, fishing and snow skiing.

The Independent Living Centre product database list sports and recreation equipment suppliers.

TAD Disability Services NSW will manufacture custom designed equipment. 

Other Recreational/Social Activities

Accessible Arts—promotes full inclusion, access and cultural opportunities in the arts for people with disabilities through advocacy, education and information.

Active Places—web portal and search engine for recreation, sport and cultural activities for people with a disability.

NICAN—information on recreation, tourism, sport and the arts for people with disabilities.

Further Reading

Visit SCIA's SCI Resources Library. See topics "Exercise" and "Sport and Recreation" to find publications, articles, websites and more.

For further information on this or any other topic please call SCIA by phone on 1800 819 775 or email  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or visit the SCIA Library.

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