Be Active Your Way Blog
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.
What is a Healthy Community?? There are many definitions out there, the one here is from the Centers for Disease Control:
“A community that is continuously creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and in developing to their maximum potential.”
What is your maximum potential? And how do you reach it?
These questions will probably bring about a variety of answers based on individual needs and abilities. We all have an individual level of maximum potential and we all need different things in order to achieve that. Health too is an individual state of being. We all have an individual state of being that we deem “healthy” or “fit” AND we all need different things in order to achieve that.
So how does a community constantly create and improve the physical and social environment and expand its resources so that everyone can support each other in ALL of life’s functions as well as developing to their own individual maximum potential??
To me a healthy community has the opportunity to obtain proper health care services, the opportunity to receive a good education, the opportunity to play, the opportunity to be social, the opportunity to be intellectually stimulated, the opportunity to be physically active, and the opportunity to be safe while you take advantage of all these other opportunities. And these opportunities must be for everyone.
For many of us, the opportunity to participate is taken for granted. I’ll admit it, I don’t feel as if I have encountered many barriers to my personal health pursuits. That’s where program coordinators and community leaders that, like myself, may not be personally familiar with barriers but have so much to offer to the health of a community, must be educated in terms of making their opportunities available to everyone.
Therefore being inclusive, accessible and available for all, including individuals with a variety of needs, abilities, function, and health conditions is hugely important. This may sound like a big job, but in truth, some simple guidance can assist these program leaders and key community members in establishing programs for all.
Here are some ideas:
· Establish an “Advisory Board” of community members (including consumers with disabilities) to help advise local service providers of low-cost ways to be more accessible and disability friendly.
· Make use of your local Chamber of Commerce, alderman’s office, neighborhood planning committee or other similar local organizations to either get the word out about an “Advisory Board” or to provide materials on accessibility and disability etiquette. These organizations would likely be the first to know when a new service provider or program is coming to your community so getting involved from the beginning could be key.
Please share your ideas for making healthy opportunities in your community available to all.
Tags: health, inclusion, community, access
Building Healthy Communities
There is a critical need to increase participation in physical activity for everyone, this we already know. Unfortunately, many physical activity programs are not designed in a way that includes people with disabilities. Recognizing the need for inclusive programming and the common barriers to physical activity for people with disabilities (cost, transportation, don’t know where/how to exercise, inaccessible facilities, lack of knowledgeable staff) the staff at the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD) knew it was time to put their heads together to come up with something creative, something that hadn’t been tried before.
It quickly became clear that the internet is a growing platform for delivering health promotion programs that can tackle many of the barriers faced by people with disabilities and reach large numbers of people. The existing web-based programs, though, didn’t seem to be providing modifications to allow people with a variety of different abilities to be able to participate. This was NCPAD’s niche! After much discussion and research, the 14-Week Program to a Healthier You was born; an inclusive web-based program that uses three stages of progression to promote physical activity (that can be done anywhere, without specialized equipment) and healthy eating for people of all abilities.
We had learned that, in general, the more a web-based program is tailored and interactive, the better the results. Understanding that one of our greatest challenges was going to be providing resources and exercises that fit the needs of each participant regardless of individual fitness level, exercise experience, and type of impairment, we knew that the opportunity for individualized interaction was crucial.
With these things in mind, the features of the program were developed. They include:
The results, so far, have been fantastic! Interest in the program far-surpassed what we ever dreamed possible, with 3,500 people registering in 2010. Although we have yet to do a detailed evaluation of the program, preliminary review shows that people of all abilities increased their levels of physical activity, enjoyed the program, and would highly recommend it to others in their social circle! We are excited to run the program next spring and work in new ideas to continue to assist individuals of all abilities in becoming more physically active!
How are you creatively promoting physical activity for people of all abilities?
Tags: People with disabilities, Web based program
People with Disabilities
Fitness center participant at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting older. Thank goodness it’s not just me! It is estimated that by 2030, one out of every 5 Americans will be 65 years of age or older. As Baby Boomers age, society needs to change to accommodate demands of this growing percentage. So, what are we doing to meet the physical activity needs of this aging population and how are we making available opportunities known?
Not only is aging inevitable, but chronic disease, disability, mobility limitations, and other physical impairments increase as we age. Fun, huh? With the significant buying power of the Baby Boomers and the physical changes they face, the setting is primed for the development and marketing of accessible and inclusive programs, services, and facilities.
You may already have accessible and inclusive programs, services, and features, but how many people know about those? People with disabilities are often unaware of physical activity opportunities in their area despite their existence. The problem then, is marketing. How are people going to know about what is available if nobody reaches out to them, particularly if a prior experience in a fitness setting was less than positive (which certainly wouldn’t encourage me to seek more out)?
Here are some tips:
Older adults and individuals with disabilities are a growing population with money to spend and health needs to address. By reaching out, you are not only increasing your membership base, but are also helping to fill a significant need in their lives.
For more information on marketing to individuals with disabilities, go to
“So, what are you doing to meet the physical activity needs of this population and how are you making these opportunities known?”
Tags: Marketing, fitness centers, disabilities
Marketing Physical 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.