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There is growing evidence to suggest the physical and mental health benefits of lifestyle sports (LS) in disabled people. However, disabled people are less likely to participate in sports than those without disabilities and the evidence base is sporadic. We conducted a scoping review to explore the range and quality of this evidence base. Methods: Eligible studies consisted of participants participating in LS with a physical, intellectual, mental or sensory disability and included both adults and children. Descriptive, thematic and quality assessment techniques were used to provide a comprehensive summary of all evidence. Results: We identified 57 studies, across seven different sports, with numerous physical and mental health benefits to disabled people, including improved strength, fitness and balance as well as confidence, self-esteem and overall psychological wellbeing. Key emergent themes were that participation in LS promoted the development of social skills and building of community. Conclusions: Our scoping review was the first to explore this field of research, revealing a unanimously positive association between lifestyle sports and physical and mental health. Future research could focus on understanding the relationship and mechanisms between the sport, being in nature, or participating as part of a group that creates health benefits; and identifying appropriate duration, intensity and quantity of participation needed for long-term improvements.

Original publication




Journal article


International Journal of Disabilities Sports and Health Sciences

Publication Date





60 - 81