Adapted physical activity

What is adapted physical activity?

Adapted physical activity refers to the physical activities of persons who, due to an injury, illness, disability or social situation, find it difficult to participate in commonly available exercise forms. In these situations, physical activity requires adaptation and special expertise.

The basis for adapted physical activity is identifying individual needs and goals. Adapted physical activity could be for  example an exercise group for heart patients, an odourless exercise class for people with allergies, sitting yoga, a dance lesson for people with Parkinson's disease or nature-based activities for people with mental health disorders. 

Exercise is also considered adapted physical activity when the content of any exercise session is adapted according to the participant’s ability to function. Adapted versions of various sports can also be classified as adapted physical activity.

The ICF classification system

The concept of adapted physical activity can also be viewed from the perspective of WHO’s international ICF classification system. The system describes how an illness or injury influences an individual’s life. This system is used, for example, in healthcare. 

The system is divided into two main classes: 

1) functioning & disability 

2) contextual factors. 

Functioning & disabilities are further divided into the body functions & body structures and activities & participation subclasses. Contextual factors, on the other hand, are divided into the environmental factor and personal factor subclasses.

The concepts of functioning, disability and contextual factors are fundamentally related to the concept of adapted physical acitivity. 
For example in a long-term disease it is both functioning and disabilities, as well as the contextual factors, that affect to the ability for the individual to be physically active. 

The ICF classification system therefore provides a useful frame of reference that can be used to view the concept of adapted physical activity holistically.

Who offers adapted physical activity?

Adapted physical activity in Finland is offered by:

1. the local associations of SoveLi’s member organizations

2. the sports and fitness services of cities and municipalities

3. sports clubs

4. other parties offering adapted physical activities, such as the Finnish Athletic Association of the Deaf, Finnish Dance Rehabilitation Registered Association and Walking Football.

Studying adapted physical activity in Finland

Adapted physical activity is one area of the field of sports and exercise and forms its own discipline. Adapted physical activity can be studied in Finland in the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä. Adapted physical activity is usually also a part of the curriculum of sports-related educational programmes .