What is Adapted Physical Activity?

Adapted physical activity (APA) refers to physical activity for persons who require adaptation in order to take part in physical activity and sporting activities due to disability, illness, lowered functional ability or social situation. The target groups of adapted physical activity are usually persons with disabilities and chronic illnesses and persons over 65 whose functional ability has clearly lowered due to age, disability or a chronic illness. APA can be suited for many things such as rehabilitation, recreational and leisure time activities, health-enhancing physical activity and wellbeing, inclusive or special physical education or competitive sports, individuals and groups.

Out of Finland’s population of 5.5 million people approximately 15 % have some form of limitation in their functional ability due to illness or disability. In the near future the need for APA will increase due to the ageing Finnish population.

The most significant actors organizing APA in Finland are municipalities, associations, social and health sector institutions, and schools. It has been estimated that approximately 250,000 persons with disabilities and chronic illnesses participate in adapted physical activity targeted activities. About one third (approximately 120) of Finnish sport associations concentrate on either parasports or services for persons with disabilities. One third of these associations do not yet offer adapted physical activity services. In addition, it has been estimated that only 10 % of Finnish sport clubs have possibilities for persons with disabilities.

Learn more about the history of adapted physical activity in Finland


There are many Finnish laws and international regulations that effects how adapted physical activity is organized in Finland.

Read more about the legislation and regulations











Picture: Lauri Jaakkola, VAU ry.