Adaptive Recreation and Fitness in Denver

The National Library of Medicine estimates that adults with a disability are 53% more likely to be obese (38.5% vs. 25.1%) than adults without a disability, putting this population at even greater risk for developing health problems that are associated not only with a sedentary lifestyle, but chronic medical issues related to disability, as well.  

Reasons for this disparity are complex. In addition to barriers that the general population faces, such as time or motivation, there are reduced opportunities for people with disabilities due to:

  • Medications that can contribute to weight gain, weight loss, and changes in appetite.
  • Physical limitations. 
  • A lack of energy.
  • A lack of resources such as money, transportation or support from family, friends or the community.  
  • Fewer opportunities for sports and physical activity.

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD ) helps people with disability and other chronic health conditions achieve health benefits through increased participation in all types of physical and social activities. These include fitness and aquatic activities, recreational and sports programs, and adaptive equipment usage. Check out their website for a great list of programs in the Denver area, a huge selection of videos, resources for practitioners, and a large collection of articles on a variety of topics.  

Denver Parks & Recreation (DPR) offers therapeutic and recreation programs for people with disabilities of any age through their Adaptive Program. Activities and classes to improve quality of life, foster independence and boost self-esteem are offered by Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialists (CTRS) and other DPR team members. 

Additional Resources:

  • Denver Public Library carries New Mobility Magazine, the "magazine for active wheelchair users", which often features articles about fitness, such as Martial Arts for Wheelies, Three Fun Ways to Stay Fit, and Exercise as a Natural Mood Elevator.  Available with your library card.  
  • There's a new, free mobile app called SCI-Ex that helps  promote exercise for people living with a spinal cord injury. You can download SCI-Ex from the Apple App or Google Play stores.
  • The MS Gym, located in Littleton, educates the multiple sclerosis community on how to exercise safely, correctly and effectively in order to manage symptoms. 
  • Autism Climbs empowers individuals with autism and their families through climbing activities, leadership development, and positive breakthroughs.
  • Colorado has a number of horse therapy centers for individuals with special needs. 
  • If you'd like to help raise funds and awareness for the mission and the athletes of Special Olympics Colorado, don't miss the 2019 Polar Bear Plunge.
Written by Lisa on December 13, 2018


Anonymous on December 22, 2018


This is great info, Lisa! Thanks for sharing it.

Jane on January 3, 2019


Thanks for this information. For careers in Therapeutic Recreation/Recreation Therapy in Denver, check out Metropolitan State University of Denver. They are the only program in the state... and a great one.

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