It's no secret that those who participate in wheelchair sports benefit both on and off the court. People with disabilities who play wheelchair sports have been shown to have fewer hospital stays, fewer secondary health complications, less stress and depression, more friends, a greater chance of living independently, and more community involvement than people with disabilities who are inactive.
Physical & Mental
Wheelchair fencing is a great exercise to increase your physical capabilities, such as flexibility, fine-motor skills, and balance. The pace is fast and intense, even more so in wheelchair fencing. Fencers have to lean back and forth quickly with their upper bodies to avoid being hit or to deliver a lightning fast hit to their opponent. Thus providing the necessary aerobic exercise to improve the cardiovascular system and anaerobic workout for increasing muscular strength in the arms and the core. Furthermore, the minute and technical movements of the hand promote fine-motor skills with hand-eye coordination.
Finally, fencing is also a great mental workout. It is often referred to as a game of physical chess. Each match is as much about strategy as ability. The decisive factor in fencing is the ability to think unconventionally and find your bearings in a rapidly changing situation. Therefore, it requires a strong connection between mind and body, and the mind is always looking ahead to the next possible movement. Each bout between two fencers is a show of cause and effect. One move produces a response in the opponent, and their move causes a response in you. Decisions must be made quickly and in the heat of the moment to outwit your opponent. Fencing absolutely increases focus and concentration, as well as the powers of observation. It also develops self assurance and discipline. The mind must constantly work and build its decision making skills. Building on these skills can improve ones performance in many other aspects of daily life. Judging and anticipating situations, and building intuition will help in social circles as well as the workplace.
Emotional & Social
Researchers have shown in a number of studies that people with spinal cord injuries (SCI) or other conditions limiting mobility benefit emotionally from exercise, recreation, and participation in sports. Specifically, individuals with SCI, who engaged in regular exercise showed a decrease in self-reported stress and depression. Furthermore, individuals with SCI, who were either athletes before injury or were exposed to sports during rehabilitation reported increased opportunities for social contact and better community integration. Also, those who participated in an adapted sports program with able-bodied partners showed significant decreases in depression, anxiety, and stress along with a higher perceived manageability to deal with psychosocial issues. Previous research described sport participation as empowering and believed, “empowerment was an enabling process whereby respondents modified thoughts about their capabilities and perceived themselves as having greater control over life events,” suggesting physical activity may play in an important role in reducing the impact of a disability. Finally, there was evidence to support a change in self-perception for persons with SCI from a loss of able identity to re-establishing a positive identity through participation in sports.
Fencing, more specifically, also teaches a person to control their emotions, boost self-confidence, and encourages the spirit of healthy rivalry and competition. It forces impulsive or short-tempered people to get a grip of themselves, and shy or reticent ones to take risks that they would not consider taking ordinarily. It is a creative sport, which enables free development of the personality that best fits the fencer.
Finally, a fencing club is a wonderful way to meet people and make friends. The shared interest of the sport unites people from all walks of life, and the uniqueness of it makes the bonds even more special. Club members often become friends, and those who choose to compete will meet people from all over the country and the world.