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Posted by Rachel Tanenhaus, MPH

Rachel is a Program Coordinator for the Healthy Aging and Disability Unit at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.



People with disabilities are much less likely to be active than people without disabilities – and I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been great about bucking the trend. 

I heard about the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability’s (NCPAD) “14 Weeks to a Healthier You” program, and I really liked the idea of an exercise and nutrition program tailored to my needs and my disability.  So, I’m setting out to find “a healthier me” for the next 14 weeks.

My Orientation week is going pretty well.  The focus this week is on learning about the website, which seems friendly, encouraging, and easy to use. When I signed up, I was able to:
• choose the goals that were most appropriate for me,
• pick the types of physical activities that sparked my interest,
• indicate how much mobility I have in different areas of my body, and
• create a bio and a profile for myself. 

I was given the option to receive reminders and encouragement via text, e-mail and/or telephone (…I chose all three, just to see what would happen).  The site also has helpful video tutorials, and while I wasn’t able to get closed captioning working, every video has a transcript posted. Participants can earn “badges” for reaching different milestones or adding other people to the site as “friends.” I can also request real-time online help from NCPAD staff during certain hours.

There is also a section on measurements and assessments, and I was happy to find instructions on how to measure height, weight and various levels of fitness while standing, sitting, lying down, or getting help from someone else. At the beginning of Week 1, I’ll be able to access videos demonstrating strength, flexibility and cardio exercises and schedule workouts on an electronic calendar.  I’ll also have access to recipes and logs for tracking food and physical activity. 

I’ll be measuring my weight, BMI, strength, flexibility and stamina at Week 1, Week 7, and finally again at Week 14 in order to see my progress.  When I’ve got a month of the program under my belt, I’ll let everyone know how it’s going. 

Feel free to sign up and join me; I’d love the company! To sign up, visit The program is ongoing, so you can start at any time! My nickname on the site is RachelT – wish me luck and stay tuned!

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