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February Blog Theme

February marks another milestone in the movement for a healthier generation - the 3rd year anniversary of the Let's Move! campaign. This month, Be Active Your Way bloggers will reflect on work that has been done to combat childhood obesity, as well as the road ahead.

To celebrate the Anniversary of Let's Move!, you'll hear from:

The Importance of Adapted Physical Education in Schools

by NCPAD February 29, 2012

Guest written by Tamika Jones, M.Ed., CAPE

Organizations across the United States are heavily pushing for more physical activity in physical education (PE) classes, after-school programs and community-based programs for children. This will also mean a greater push for the availability of adapted physical education (APE) services, which are so important for youth with disabilities.

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition reported that physical activity is 4.5 times lower for children and youth with disabilities compared to their peers without disabilities. The purpose of PE is for students to learn, practice, and master skills that will allow them to be physically active for a lifetime. While PE has the same purpose, APE curriculums allow for students to work on a more individualized curriculum that focuses on each student's strengths, needs, and interests.

As a trained adapted physical educator, I have noticed that students experience a higher level of success while in APE, as well as in general PE classes with one-on-one assistance. Students who were enrolled in my self-contained APE classes really benefited from the smaller class size that offered personal adaptations and a more defined class structure. Most importantly, APE services provide students with ample opportunities to increase their confidence in a physical activity setting and to improve their overall self-esteem.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") is a Federal law designed to ensure that all children with disabilities, from birth to 21 years of age, have free appropriate public education available to them. This includes early intervention, special education, and related services designed to meet their individual needs. IDEA requires that PE services, specially designed if necessary, must be made available to every child with a disability receiving free public education. In accordance with the law, the term "physical education" includes special education, APE, movemen

t education, and motor development. IDEA states that if specially designed physical education is prescribed in a child's individual education program, that the public agency must be responsible for the child's education by providing the necessary services directly or making arrangements for services to be provided through other public or private programs free of charge to the child and parents.

Students who may not qualify to receive special education services, but still require disability-appropriate educational services may still be eligible. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that the public agency responsible for the child's education provide students with disabilities-appropriate educational services designed to meet the individual's needs. Under these requirements, a student with a Section 504 plan can quality for APE services as well.

In today's world, where the number of youth with disabilities is growing, it is important that these individuals are provided with the same quality educational experiences as their nondisabled peers. Physical education services should be no different. APE provides youth with disabilities a means to master physical education goals. The individualized PE program allows students to move at their own pace, while in a PE setting that fits their individual needs. By modifying instructions and equipment, students with disabilities are able to achieve success while building strength, endurance, and skill levels that will hopefully keep them physically active for the rest of their lives.

About the Guest Writer

Tamika Jones, M.Ed., CAPE, received her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI and Master of Education in Kinesiology in Adapted Physical Education from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. She is a certified Physical Educator with the Adapted Physical Education National Standards. Tamika began working at the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability as a Visiting Information Specialist in October 2011.


Policy | Schools

Membership Has Its Benefits

by IHRSA February 8, 2012

Lifestyle experts often suggest that a healthy and active lifestyle does not require a health club membership. They are absolutely correct. There are countless ways to stay active without ever seeing the inside of a health club.

But the existence of widespread options should not undercut the intrinsic value of belonging to a health club. For many folks, it is the best - and sometimes only - practical option. For others, it is a wonderful complement to their other physical activities.

Certainly, a health club membership is not right for everyone, and the industry must continue to improve its outreach to folks who may be intimidated or feel unwelcome at a club. It's also critical for lifestyle experts to stress the importance of every individual finding activities that will lead to sustainable healthy habits. But I think that health clubs may be a better option than many folks realize.

So, here is my case - in a nutshell - for making a health club membership a key component of a healthy lifestyle:

Safe Location

Location is often a major barrier to physical activity. A lack of sidewalks, poorly lit streets, and a fear of crime are all common factors leading to decreased physical activity. A health club offers the opportunity to exercise safely in a well-lit and monitored public space, usually regardless of the time of day.

Safe Environment

The risk of injury is inherent to physical activity. Health clubs provide resources for ensuring safe exercise, including the broad availability of fitness professionals to answer specific questions. Furthermore, an injured health club patron is likely to receive timely care from club employees and/or emergency medical personnel.


Health clubs can be pricey, no doubt. But there are also inexpensive options that offer all the basic benefits of a health club. When compared with the monthly cost of cable TV, cell phone service, or even coffee, a health club membership can be a very accessible option.


For many people, pursuing a variety of physical activities is key to keeping up the habit. Other folks want fun activities or high-energy classes. Most health clubs offer ample opportunities to find activities that match members' preferences.

Friends Don't Let Friends Be Sedentary

Behavioral research tells us that our lifestyle habits are highly influenced by our social networks. An individual plugged into an active social network is more likely to be active. When an individual joins a health club, the individual is increasing the number of likely social contacts with active people, which may increase the likelihood of the individual sustaining a healthy and active lifestyle.

Surely, health clubs must continue to evolve and find ways to connect with folks to create sustained healthy activity habits. At the same time, I think many folks would be surprised by the welcoming and accommodating nature of their local health clubs. What are some ways that health clubs could attract more folks to be physically active?

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Active Advice

Improve Your Health at Work

by AOSSM February 3, 2012

We have all heard about the benefits of exercise for improving our health. But with long work days and busy family lives and personal obligations, setting aside time every day to exercise 30-60 minutes can be challenging. What if you could find ways to get exercise where you work? It is likely that improved health and increased exercise actually make you more productive while you're at work, so you might have added incentive. What steps can you take that could improve your physical fitness, your health and wellness, and even increase your work productivity?

  • Use the stairs instead of elevators. If you have to go up several floors in your building during the day, you might as well exercise while doing it.
  • Park toward the back of the parking lot and walk into and out of work. Don't circle the lot for minutes looking for a spot close to the front door. Park at the back of the lot and walk to the entrance. That extra 100 yards adds up if done every day.
  • Start a walking club or fitness class with your colleagues. Running, walking, yoga, aerobics, and other forms of exercise with others will improve collegiality among coworkers. Meeting to do it together will provide motivation by making it less likely that you will skip the exercise sessions.
  • Replace your office chair with a stability ball. It is not exercise, per se, but you can improve your core strength by using a Swiss ball as your office desk chair.
  • Wear running shoes to work. Wear your dress shoes only when necessary. Not only will the running shoes help with walking longer distances from the parking lot or during breaks at the office, but they will also serve as a reminder to use them if you see them throughout the day.
  • Break up exercise into small periods during breaks. While 30-60 minutes of walking is ideal, several 10-15 minute sessions can be effective as well. Look for breaks in your schedule and use them to perform some of your fitness activities.
  • Keep some dumbbells or resistance bands at your desk. Similar to walking, weights and other forms of resistance training require little space or preparation time. A few exercises in each small break can add up to a complete workout.
  • Replace email and the phone as a means of communication. Rather than pushing emails back and forth to coworkers, get up and walk to their desks. Talk in person. You might be surprised that you actually accomplish more in less time, and you will burn a few calories each time too!

Do you have any other ideas to stay active at your job? Share them here!

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