Be Active, Engage, and Play – Critical Keys to Live A Healthy Lifestyle

May 12, 2014
Tagged with: Be Active, Engage, and Play – Critical Keys to Live A Healthy Lifestyle

As I studied the concept of Active and Healthy Aging for one of my recent blogs, I began to reflect on the concepts of Healthy Living and engaging in a Healthy Lifestyle. The definition of Healthy Living that I most relate to as a person with a disability comes from a 2003 article called “Health and Wellness: People with disabilities discuss barriers and facilitators to well-being”. Healthy living is described as “people with disabilities being able to function, be independent, having both a physical and emotional state of well-being, and an absence of pain.” [i] The walking program that I started in 2006 was born from the idea that I want to remain independent, be pain-free, and do what I want to do when I choose.

The best definition I came across for engaging in a Healthy lifestyle was “forming the right habits that provide, preserve, and enhance the level of health and welfare for an individual.”[ii]  As I read through articles and research on the topic of Healthy Lifestyles, the following elements or habits were identified as important keys in the development of a healthy lifestyle:

  1. Eating a healthy diet and ceasing to smoke if you are a smoker,
  2. Limiting alcohol consumption, and
  3. Engaging in regular physical activity and exercise. [iii]

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Physical Activity is any body movement that works your muscles and requires more energy than resting.” Walking, Rolling, Swimming, and Yoga, are a few examples of physical activity.[iv] Research indicates that participation in physical activity tends to decrease after people reach the age of 55.[v] Current exercise guidelines suggest that people need to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity over the course of seven days. Examples of physical activity are noted in the table.[vi]

 

Physical Activity Examples
Moderate intensity Brisk walking or rolling, bike riding, dancing, and swimming
Vigorous intensity Playing a sport, taking part in aerobic exercise classes, and usingcardiovascular gym equipment [vii]

 

Our existing Health, Fitness, and Disability sectors have physical activity guidelines for people with and without disabilities, tip sheets, and numerous resources about the importance of physical activity and living a healthy lifestyle. For information on physical activity, existing physical activity guidelines, and how to engage in a healthy lifestyle, see: (http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/index.html) and (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/tools-resources/physical-activity.htm)

An article called “Let me play, not exercise! A laddering study of older women’s motivations for continued engagement in sports-based versus exercise-based leisure time physical activities,” by Kathryn K. Berlin and David B. Klenosky, caught my attention. The article explores the types of physical activity that men and women over the age of 65 participate in and what keeps them actively involved. Examples of physical activity identified within the article included fitness classes, yoga, and Pilates. Activities like Pilates were chosen by people to lose and maintain body weight.[viii]

The article also studies the types of sports-and leisure-related activities people over the age of 65 participate in. Examples of activity included bowling, waking, golf, and swimming. People participated in these activities for improved health and fitness, the social benefits, and social networking.[ix] Kathryn Berlin and David Klenosky’s research indicates that rather than sitting at home being sedentary, people want to be active. People joined activities like swimming and golf because they enjoyed “being in the water” and enjoyed “being active.” They viewed swimming and golf as a form of exercise.”[x] The article also cites and corroborates research that shows competition, skill improvement, and goal achievement cause people to engage in physical activity.[xi]

While I was reading Kathryn Berlin and David Klenosky’s article, I started to think about people with disabilities and the keys to Active and Healthy Aging that my 92-year-old friend Stella highlighted. (http://blog.ncpad.org/2014/04/28/active-and-healthy-aging-keys-to-aging-well/)

The keys included:

  1. Having structure, which means having a defined purpose, activities, and a schedule for each day;
  2. Getting out, which literally means walking or rolling and having a place to go, and not staying sedentary; and
  3. Staying connected, which means having opportunities to engage, connect with other people, and participate.

Stella’s keys concerning Active and Healthy Aging can be applied to people with disabilities engaging in physical activity. Most people with disabilities I know want to get out, want to be active, engage, and not be sedentary.

I would add another key to Stella’s list. The fourth key involves the following principles:

o   People with disabilities choose physical activities which can also be a form of leisure and play—(e.g. walking, rolling, swimming, or golf). The activity should be fun, enjoyable, and challenging.

o   People with disabilities should choose activities which help them to develop a sense of personal achievement such as improving a specific skill or technique.

When I chose to develop my walking program at a community-based fitness facility, I wanted to be active and improve my walking and mobility skills. I also wanted the opportunity to engage and participate with my peers with and without disabilities.

The mobility skills that I am working to develop and maintain demand that I show up and participate in the activities and drills at set times. The structure of my program demands growth and improvement in specific skills and techniques. I chose the form of physical activity I would engage in. I continue to participate in the program and activity because of the level of challenge it presents.

I also continue to engage in the activity because of the skill improvements I see over time. A person, with or without a disability, is going to keeping coming back and engage in physical activity, whatever the form, if they enjoy it, see benefit from it, and are motivated by the experience.

Echoing the thoughts of Kathryn Berlin and David Klenosky, I say, “Be Active, Engage, and Play.” Share what your favorite form of physical activity is on the Endless CapABILITIES Blog page- (http://blog.ncpad.org/). How do you engage and play?

 

[i] Putnam, Michelle; Sarah Geenen,; Laurie Powers,; Marsha Saxton,; al Et. “Health and wellness: People with disabilities discuss barriers and facilitators to well being.” The Journal of Rehabilitation. National Rehabilitation Association. 2003.

[ii] Hekmatpou, D., Shamsi, M., & Zamani, M. (2013). The effect of a healthy lifestyle program on the elderly’s health in Arak. Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, 67(3), 70.

[iii] Hekmatpou, D., Shamsi, M., & Zamani, M. (2013). The effect of a healthy lifestyle program on the elderly’s health in Arak. Indian Journal of Medical Sciences, 67(3), 70.

[iv]What is Physical Activity? (2014). Retrieved May 7, 2014, from (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/phys/).

[v] Koeneman, M. A., Chinapaw, M. J., Verheijden, M. W., van Tilburg, T. G., Visser, M., Deeg, D. J., & Hopman-Rock, M. (2012). Do major life events influence physical activity among older adults: the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9, 147.

[vi] Rogers, N. L., Green, J. L., & Rogers, M. E. (2012). Physician-prescribed physical activity in older adults. Aging Health, 8(6), 601+.

[vii] Rogers, N. L., Green, J. L., & Rogers, M. E. (2012). Physician-prescribed physical activity in older adults. Aging Health, 8(6), 601+.

[viii] Berlin, Kathryn K., and David B. Klenosky. “Let me play, not exercise! A laddering study of older women’s motivations for continued engagement in sports-based versus exercise-based leisure time physical activities.” Journal of Leisure Research 46.2 (2014): 127+. Academic OneFile.

[ix] Berlin, Kathryn K., and David B. Klenosky. “Let me play, not exercise! A laddering study of older women’s motivations for continued engagement in sports-based versus exercise-based leisure time physical activities.” Journal of Leisure Research 46.2 (2014): 127+. Academic OneFile.

[x] Berlin, Kathryn K., and David B. Klenosky. “Let me play, not exercise! A laddering study of older women’s motivations for continued engagement in sports-based versus exercise-based leisure time physical activities.” Journal of Leisure Research 46.2 (2014): 127+. Academic OneFile.

[xi] Berlin, Kathryn K., and David B. Klenosky. “Let me play, not exercise! A laddering study of older women’s motivations for continued engagement in sports-based versus exercise-based leisure time physical activities.” Journal of Leisure Research 46.2 (2014): 127+. Academic OneFile.

Author: Kerry



  • bobl07

    Exercise is the key to life.

  • Kerry Wiley

    Thank you for your comment. We certainly know that people with disabilities need to engage in physical activity. Yet, research indicates again and again, that people with disabilities are not engaging and it makes me wonder – how do we foster engagement?

  • Sunshizzle

    I think that people very frequently undervalue the importance of play in their lives, both ABs and PWDs. having fun in being active? Sounds like a quick way to strong physical and mental and emotional health :-)