The Importance of Physical Activity for Children with Disabilities



The physical, cognitive and social benefits of physical activity extend to all children, including those with disabilities. Participation in physical activity is vital in improving motor performance, minimizing physical de-conditioning, and increasing self-esteem and social abilities. Although participation in sports and recreational activities is crucial, many children with disabilities experience limited opportunities due to their social, physical, behavioral and cognitive impairments. 


Obesity and mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent among children and even more prominent among children with disabilities. The combination of the health risks associated with physical inactivity and obesity presents a serious health concern.  Providing opportunities for physical activity can help foster independence and contribute to improved cognitive performance, decision making, coping abilities, and teamwork. Children who are active demonstrate better planning, organization and self regulation skills than those who are inactive and physical activity can help support mental health and wellness. 


Active kids who stay active grow stronger. The cycle of deconditioning is the same – for children who are inactive, the less they do, the less they are able to do. 


Gymnastics is a sport focused on the whole body, filled with opportunities to stimulate the brain, provide social interaction, improve motor skills, increase endurance and core, upper and lower body strength, while providing children with a novel and alternative method for learning new skills. Children are able to run, jump, crash, roll, and climb while learning new motor sequences and manipulating props such as hula hoops, sticks and balls. Occupational Therapists are experts at breaking down skills into their smallest parts and individualizing sessions for children of all abilities to ensure they meet your child where they are and provide the “just right” challenge. 


Gymnastics helps children become stronger physically and mentally and discover new things they are capable of, leading to increased confidence, inside and outside of the gym. Moving therapy to the gym can provide vast opportunities for children with disabilities from a physical and cognitive standpoint and can help to promote generalization of skills to other daily environments, such as home and school. 


If you’re in or around the Nashville area, please contact us today to set up your free session! If you have any questions or would like more information regarding gymnastics and children with disabilities, please email me at