The Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Lifestyle Sports for Disabled People: A Scoping Review

Lewis Youngson, Charlie Foster, Jeffrey Lambert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


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 languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-81
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Disabilities Sports and Health Sciences
Issue number1
Early online date9 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No conflict of interest is declared by the authors. In addition, no financial support was received.


  • Disability
  • Lifestyle Sports’
  • Mental Health
  • Physical Health
  • Social

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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