Tagged with: accessibility athletes awareness disability exercise fitness health life Physical Activity recreation sport wheelchair
Cycling is fast becoming an exercise of choice for many people all over the world for a number of reasons. It is not only a preferred method of exercising your upper and lower limbs but it is also a form of recreation for many people. In addition to that, it is also a method of transportation for a number of people all over the world.
In order to cater for the needs of people living with disabilities, the industry has continuously developed modified bicycles with different capabilities to include everyone in the cycling sport. Handcycling was introduced over 25 years ago to cater for people who have impairment in their lower limbs. It is a three-wheeled cycle that is designed to be propelled by the strength of the upper arms. Since its introduction, the handcycle has exponentially grown to become one of the most recognized modes of adaptive cycling. To this extent, it was first featured in the 2004 Paralympic Games that were held in Athens.
There are different styles of the handcycle. One of the most common one is the upright model that is usually an entry level type. This style is used by individuals who are learning the art of handcycling and is designed to run at speeds that do not exceed 25kmh. the other common style is the recumbent model. This model is designed with a number of speed gears ranging between 3 and 27. They are normally used by experts and professionals.
Benefits of handcycling
The benefits of handcycling cannot be overemphasized. They are similar to those achieved through regular cycling save for a few differences in relation to the muscle groups involved in the process.
The first and possibly the most obvious benefit of handcycling for persons with disabilities is movement. The regular bicycle made it a little difficult for people with disabilities to ride and therefore limiting their ability to move from one place to another. Since the introduction of handcycles, it is now much easier for a person with a disability to enjoy their ride and also move around like everyone else. This has been made possible by the mere fact that anyone with both arms can easily sit on the handcycle and cycle away to wherever it is they need to go. In addition to exercise, it is also a great means of transportation for people who cannot drive due to their ability level.
For the first time in several years, it is now much easier for people with disabilities to also join hands with other people to enjoy a sport that has been in existence since time immemorial. While it was always easy for people to hop onto a bicycle and cycle away for fun, the same could not have been said about people living with disabilities. Today, there are a number of adaptive sport that these people can participate in either on their own or together with the regular cyclists. It is also possible for them to just step out and go out for a ride in the neighborhood with their handcycles like other people would do with their bicycles.
- Cardiovascular fitness
Like all other forms of exercises, handcycling also causes one’s heart rate to increase exponentially. It is common knowledge that increased heart rate comes with a number of health benefits that include cardiovascular fitness. The fact that you will utilize the upper body strength more than any other part of your body means that there will be increased heart rate which improves the overall blood flow in your body and strengthens your heart muscles properly. This has a ripple effect of reducing your stress levels and generally increasing your mental fitness as well.
- Muscle gain
Another obvious health benefit of handcycling for a person with a disability is the possibility of gaining muscles in all the right places. By design, a handcycle is designed with an in-phase type of pedal. This is because many people think that this type of pedaling generates much more power than the out-of-phase pedals. Irrespective of which type of pedal is fitted on the handbike, the muscles that are going to be worked in order to move the bike are innumerable. You will work your shoulder and arm muscles to the core. You will also work your abdominal muscles quite fast. It is proven that continued use of the handcycle will lead to a thoroughly toned body and increased strength and muscles.
- Social opportunities
For people living with disabilities, it is no longer enough to just sit around in one place and wait for help from other people. Handcycles have made sure this is not the case and is not going to be the case for a long time to come. They can now join other people in several social events including but not limited to cycling competitions and charity events. This has opened up more opportunities for them in terms of access. By actively participating in these events, many people with disabilities have been able to secure very meaningful contracts and employments that have transformed their lives for better. A lot of people have landed lucrative sports deals that have turned their lives around meaningfully.
- Improved coordination
A handcycle requires a particular combination of skills that will improve an individual’s life skills. For instance, using a handcycle requires that the rider pedals, steers and brakes when necessary. All these tasks may sometimes need to be performed simultaneously. Though it may appear difficult, it is a skill that can be learnt quite fast. Once you get used to it, it will become easy and will generally improve your coordination skills making you an expert in multitasking. This is one skill that can benefit everyone.
It is no doubt that handcycling is one of the fastest growing sports in the world of cycling. It has become a common site in most of the major world competitions and this is a great incentive to people living with disabilities. There are several benefits that this bike has brought about and the emphasis can only be explained by the people who use it on a regular basis.
Article by Charles Ingram