Be Active Your Way Blog
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The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) is a public health practice and resource center on health promotion for persons with disabilities. They provide disability specific information regarding physical activity, nutrition, and lifestyle weight management along with web-based health promotion programs inclusive to users of all abilities. NCHPAD's website features a database of programs, organizations, parks, and personal trainers all equipped to provide physical activity and health services to persons with disabilities. For more information on resources that can enable people with disabilities to become as physically active as they choose to be, please contact (800) 900-8086 or visit www.nchpad.org.
Allison Hoit, MS, ACSM-HFS, is an Information Specialist for the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD). She holds a Master's degree in Community Health Education from the University of West Florida and a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from Auburn University. Her work and passion is to promote inclusive healthy communities for all of the five sectors to include community, institutions/organizations, healthcare, schools, and worksites. Leading by example, Allison is an advocate for NCHPAD's mission by participating in regular physical activity such as running, strength training, and yoga along with consuming a healthy diet.
Bob Lujano, MS, is an Information Specialist for the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD). He holds a Master's degree in Recreation and Sport Management from the University of Tennessee and a Bachelor's degree in History and Pre-Law from the University of Texas. Bob has been a wheelchair rugby athlete for 17 years including a 7 year run on the US Rugby National Team and the US Paralympic program. He holds a silver medal from the 2002 World Championship team and a bronze medal from the 2004 Paralympic team. Outside of the office Bob enjoys public speaking, church activities, reading, going to the movies and the rare occasions of going dancing.
One of my favorite things to do during the summertime when I was in grade school was going to the pool at my community's recreation center. It was convenient because I lived in town and it was a place where I could socialize with friends.
Looking back almost 20 years later, I realize the importance of the recreation center for me and rest of the community. I grew up in a family where I was encouraged and pushed to be active, regardless of my physical disability. Today, children are less physically active, and instead, playing video games and watching TV. As someone who loves various physical activities, I understand the positive impact physical activity has on an individual's physical and mental well-being. I think this is especially true for children with disabilities. One of the biggest issues is the availability of community physical activity programs for children with disabilities.
With the high obesity rate among Americans - even higher in people with disabilities - communities have the responsibility to provide fitness or physical activity programs for people of all abilities. Today, it's amazing to find so many adaptive sports and recreational opportunities available to people with disabilities, while twenty years ago many of these opportunities were non-existent.
Many of these adaptive sport and physical activity programs are run by non-profit organizations, and now park districts are providing programs. However, it's still not enough. Local communities should be collaborating with school districts to provide programs. Disabilities in general are more "visible" and recognizable in mainstream society now. And, people with disabilities who are living in every community have the right to have fitness/physical activity programs be available to them - just like individuals without disabilities.
Besides the availability of community fitness/physical activity programs, there lies another issue - getting the word out to people. One of the complaints among parents and people with disabilities is that they are unaware these kinds of programs exist. One of the reasons why so many individuals with disabilities do not participate in physical activity is because they don't realize they can, and that it's available. Agency outreach activity needs to be expanded.
In order to get people with disabilities to participate in fitness/physical activity programs they need to be available in communities. This would eliminate people having to search for programs, and accessing them would be easy. One challenge that seems to occur is engaging people with disabilities. I believe that the solution starts in communities, and in collaboration with school districts.
In addition, providing inclusive programs, as well as programs for young children, is a great start. By exposing children to fitness/physical activity programs at an early age, they will continue the behavior as they get older, and receive the health benefits from it. The key is to have programs be available and accessible - the community is a perfect place to start!
What are other ways communities can engage people with disabilities to be physically active?
Tags: disability, physical activity, community, accessibility, availability
Building Healthy Communities | People with Disabilities
"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee
As important as it is for health and fitness professionals to know what limitations an individual may have in terms of creating appropriate activities, especially for safety and medical considerations, it's also important to consider what that individual CAN do, and what they can do in context with their environment. The social model of disability has taught us that systemic barriers, negative attitudes and exclusion by society (whether purposely or not) are the main contributing factors in disabling people, not the disability itself.
The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health, or ICF, is a comprehensive framework used by the World Health Organization (WHO) for describing and measuring health and disability at both the individual and population levels. This framework is used to assess the relationship among an individual's function, activities, and participation while also considering these in the context of the environmental and personal factors that influence an individual's overall health.
The ICF puts the idea of 'health' and 'disability' in a new light and recognizes that any person can experience peaks and valleys in health, and therefore any person is prone to experiencing some kind of disability. It shifts the focus from what caused a disability to the impact that it has on the person. In addition, ICF considers the social aspects of disability and does not see disability as a medical condition. By including these contextual factors, the ICF helps us to assess the impact of the environment on the person's functioning, and therefore possibly assess potential "limitations" a bit differently.
The health domain and health-related domain contained in the ICF are described fromt he perspective of the body, the individual, and society in two basic categories: (1) Body Functions and Structures (system level); and (2) Activities and Participation (person level and person-environment interaction). The ICF can be used as a tool in exercise physiology to conduct a needs assessment or as an outcome evaluation. It allows the fitness professional to identify the barriers and facilitators that affect the health of the client with the disability and then find or create modifications for the specific individual in order to facilitate participation in an activity. The ICF emphasizes function, NOT the health condition, and categorizes the situation, NOT the person. Here is an example.
Do you see the ICF as having application in your field?
Tags: disability, physical activity, function, environment
Barriers | People with Disabilities
One of the objectives for Healthy People 2020 isReduce the proportion of adults who engage in no leisure-time physical activity to “increase the proportion of people with disabilities who report having access to health and wellness programs”. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 20 million families in the U.S. have at least 1 member with a disability, and in one out of every 5 households in the U.S., a family is caring for a child that has unique health care needs. Barriers to physical activity in people with disabilities within the United States and many other countries throughout the developing world have contributed to significant public health problems confronting our society today. Some benefits of physical activity include increased cardiac and pulmonary function, improved ability to perform activities of daily living, protection against development of chronic diseases, decreased anxiety and depression, enhanced feeling of well-being, weight control, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure.
There is a strong call to action for public health officials to implement evidence-based physical activity interventions that are inclusive of people of all abilities. Due to the many barriers individuals with disabilities face in their physical activity efforts, it is important for us to come up with creative delivery methods for these interventions and opportunities for being physically active. With the popularity of social networking sites, viral video, and other technology, one way that the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability is attempting to address this is through a video contest entitled, “How do you get enough?”
Being physically active is good for everybody. This is especially true for people with disabilities who tend to participate in less physical activity, carry excess weight and have higher rates of chronic heart disease and other health conditions. The intention of this video contest is to illustrate to society that people with disabilities do live healthy active lifestyles as well as share various ways to get physical activity for individuals with disabilities and activity limitations. This video contest will be promoted through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and video sharing sites such as Youtube.
With two billion views on YouTube per day, this largely untapped market place of adults with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities can make a huge impact by showing the world how people with disabilities get their physical activity. Also, with the increase of cameras and cell phones with video capabilities, many people without expensive camera equipment and editing expertise are able to create these hugely popular videos without much effort. Whether it’s indoor or outdoor, recreational or competitive, solo or team, easy or intensive, we (and the rest of the world) are looking how people with a wide variety of abilities (whether successfully or unsuccessfully) get enough activity in a 1-10 minute video clip! For more information, please see the contest rules at http://www.ncpad.org/newsletter/newsletter.php?letter=123§ion=1593. For a sample video please visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AGgD9rFdsA.
How are you using the Healthy People 2020 objectives to increase physical activity? How do you work with clients and your community to encourage persons with disabilities go get enough activity?
This page last updated on: 11/04/2009
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Office of Disease Prevention & Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.