Therapeutic recreation engages individuals with recreational-type activities to enhance physical, mental, or developmental wellbeing. Parks and outdoor spaces are a great tool to utilize for therapeutic recreation plus, there is the added benefit of getting out in nature, enjoying the fresh air, and getting some sun therapy, too.
Do you use mobility aids or equipment? If you do, perhaps you could benefit from therapeutic recreation. This is a type of therapy that engages clients in fun, interactive activities to increase holistic health and wellbeing. It is estimated that around 21 million people live with physical disabilities how many would potentially benefit from therapeutic recreation?
In fact, there is a holiday, National Therapeutic Recreation Month, that is set aside for this very institution. Observe National Park & Recreation Month with your own kind of therapeutic recreation and use park and recreation facilities for your activity. Do you know of the nearest park for engaging in some outdoor therapy? Search online for the closest location to you; the parks and recreation office for your area should have a website that details things like accessibility and contact info. Any park that offers classes, events, or activities likely is compliant with handicap accessibility so it should be accessible to you with your mobility aids.
Here are a few ways that parks can be utilized for therapeutic recreation and activities:
What classes does your community offer? It is not uncommon for parks and rec departments, as well as public libraries, to host things like group exercise, tai-chi, or dance in the park. This is an excellent therapeutic recreation option for individuals with varying levels of mobility. Plus, it is a great way to meet like-minded people for socialization, too.
Check your local park for outdoor art offerings. If you currently have a recreational therapist, they may make this available to you. It is truly so much fun to paint, draw, or get creative out in nature, it is very inspiring. This is a great therapeutic activity that helps with hand-eye coordination and socialization skills. Again, there are also healing properties connected with spending time in the sunshine, too.
The resistance of the water makes for a low-impact and gentle way to get physical activity, in a therapeutic way. Check local parks with pools for water aerobics, or “aquajogging” classes or groups. Individuals that live with mobility issues may find that exercise in water is perfect for reducing joint stiffness and chronic pain.
Walking clubs are another way to get therapeutic recreation, in a low-impact way. Walking is a prudent activity for anyone with the physical ability to do so. Ask the park or program coordinators about access for mobility aids; typically, there are handicap-accessible paths and routes that could be perfect for you to get out and enjoy nature. Plus, the socialization of joining a walking club makes it a great activity for all to try.
Got a pet? It has been studied and shown that animals offer therapeutic benefits to a wide range of people, young and old alike. If you believe that animal-assisted therapy would be advantageous for you, or someone you love, ask park organizers about programs in your area. Visiting parks with animals, taking pets on walks, or meeting up with rescue organizations at parks for a little one-on-one with a dog or cat all offer a variety of holistic health perks and encourage socialization with others. Area shelters and humane societies may be able to provide more information for events and opportunities in your region.
There is something so therapeutic about gardening, getting your hands dirty, and spending time in nature. Many area parks or botanical gardens offer gardening courses, lectures, or events that could be the ideal therapeutic recreation for many. Time spent learning a new skill, doing something tactile, and interacting with others are all helpful skills to hone.
Even something as simple as a picnic has therapeutic potential. Interacting with others, preparing food, enjoying a meal, and time spent outside is therapeutic recreation. So, do it; go out and have a picnic! Plan ahead and invite friends. Who doesn’t love a picnic?
Always consult with your physician or provider to ensure these types of therapeutic recreation are appropriate and that you have medical clearance to initiate such activities.
Many can benefit from therapeutic recreation, including those with developmental delays, physical disabilities, and mental illnesses. This model of treatment uses recreation to engage the client or patient, with activities designed to improve overall functioning and wellness by:
- Strengthening basic motor function.
- Building confidence.
- Improving socialization.
- Increasing physical activity.
- Improving mood and /or decreasing anxiety and depression.
Therapeutic recreation is one way to foster a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. If you live with mobility limitations, talk to the team at Pacific Mobility about quality mobility aids that improve accessibility and engagement. Also, ask your provider or doctor about a referral for a recreational therapist and whether it makes sense for you or your loved one.
President, Husband, Father, Grandfather Graduate of UC Davis- Bio Sci Major- Go Aggies! Jeff has extensive experience in all of Pacific Mobility’s products and services, and specializes in accessibility products as well as stairlifts, ceiling lifts and custom wheel chairs. His hobbies include spending time with family, gardening, mountain biking, exercising and off road motorcycle riding.
24 years as Owner/President of Pacific Mobility Center – selling, installing, and servicing stairlifts, porch lifts, ceiling lifts, pool lifts, handicap ramping, specialty wheelchairs, scooters, power wheel chairs, and other power mobility devices
Certified Environmental Access Consultant since 2008
Licensed General Contractor since 1998
Certified Aging in Place Specialist since 2016
Board Member for Home Access Professionals
Member of Association of Members of the Accessibility Equipment Industry (AEMA)