Fitness is an important aspect for quality of life for everyone. Yet it can often be very hard to understand the links between fitness and health. Even for the best of us, it can be challenging to motivate ourselves to get out and be active. Research has found that for those with cognitive disabilities, they often lead a more sedentary life when compared to others without disabilities (Hoge & Datillo, 1995; Yamaki, 2006) and have low levels of physical fitness (Rimmer, Braddock & Marks, 1995; Fernhall & Pitetti, 2001). This coupled with the challenge of finding opportunities to stay active in the community makes it an important area to develop.
From research, there are Higher rates of obesity that have been found among adults with cognitive disabilities who live with their families versus those who live in a supervised residential setting (Rimmer, Braddock & Fujura, 1993). Rimmer and Yamaki (2006) points out that this is a risk that increases with greater independence. In a study done by Moran, Drane, McDermott, Dasari, Scurry & Platt (2005), the results indicate that:
- the prevalence of obesity was higher among persons with mild versus severe cognitive disability and higher than among individuals without cognitive disabilities.
- persons with cognitive disabilities living in restrictive settings had a lower prevalence of obesity than those living in the less restrictive settings, although this difference faded by age 50 as older individuals in restrictive settings gained weight and "caught up".
- there was an increasing trend in obesity throughout the adult lives of individuals in cognitive disabilities.
- some individuals with cognitive disabilities moved in and out of obesity. The authors suggest that the fourth finding gives hope to health care providers that obesity might be modifiable later in life with intervention.
Using research and best practises, our staff, Melanie Mitrenga, Sarah Schermerhorn and Lisa Gravelle work both in group and individual settings with adults that have cognitive disabilities to increase their fitness and help motivate them to live a more active lifestyle. They develop adapted, customized gym routines and encourage fitness through fun activities.
But we don't stop there. Research has found that it can be difficult to understand the abstract nature of fitness. Neil Cutler has developed techniques to encourage visualization of the abstract concepts. By using technology, clients are encouraged to visualize their heart rates to be able to understand how hard their body is working. Clients are also encouraged to develop specific goals that if they choose to participate can be entered into a "Meet the Challenge" blog which can further encourage motivation. Take a look at some of the blogs in the "Meet the Challenge" link above.