Pledge to Talk about Physical Activity

Written by the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD)

In case you missed it, last month CDC released its Vital Signs report on Adults with Disabilities: Physical activity is for everybody.  The report focused on physical activity levels among working age adults 18 to 64 and the impact of receiving a health professional’s recommendation for physical activity.  Key messages included:

  • Working age adults with disabilities are three times more likely to have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer than adults without disabilities.
  • Nearly half of adults with disabilities get no aerobic physical activity, an important protective health behavior to help avoid these chronic diseases.
  • Inactive adults with disabilities were 50 percent more likely to report at least one chronic disease than were active adults with disabilities.
  • Adults with disabilities were 82 percent more likely to be physically active if their doctor recommended it.

Looking at these key messages, there is a clear relationship between people with disabilities being more likely to visit a health professional due to increasing prevalence of chronic disease and secondary conditions.  This relationship creates an opportunity for doctors and other health professionals to play a key role in promoting physical activity among their adult patients with disabilities by simply talking about it.  CDC lists 5 steps that doctors and other health professionals can use to increase physical activity among adults with disabilities:

  1. Remember that Physical Activity Guidelines are for Everybody
  2. Ask about Physical Activity
  3. Discuss Barriers to Physical Activity
  4. Recommend Physical Activity Options
  5. Refer Patients to Resources and Programs

Here at the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability we have created an action campaign surrounding the role that doctors and other health professionals can play in the form of a pledge.  The pledge for healthcare providers includes pledging to talk about physical activity to patients, especially those with disabilities; prescribing physical activity; and using NCHPAD’s Physician’s Toolkit to connect patients with resources and opportunities to be physically active.  Within the Physician’s Toolkit individuals will also find DocTalk Videos, which include short video messages of doctors talking to other doctors about the importance of prescribing physical activity.  We encourage broad dissemination of these resources and others provided by CDC to support this Vital Signs report. CDC has developed a dedicated resource page for doctors and other health professionals with information to help them recommend physical activity to their adult patients with disabilities, www.cdc.gov/disabilities/PA

Not a doctor or health professional?  No problem!  Physical activity is for everybody –and everybody can help.  Communities, health professionals and adults with disabilities can come together and help increase physical activity among the 21 million working age adults with disabilities in the U.S.  Learn more about what can be done in this factsheet and find your role of action!