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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.



It’s been two months since I blogged about starting the 14 Weeks to a Healthier You program at the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability (NCPAD), and I’m more than halfway through! Have I magically developed the body of a swimsuit model? Absolutely not, and I’m fine with that. Am I making progress and learning a lot? Definitely!

Every week I log on to the site and watch a short video explaining the new resources, activities and lessons for that week. The folks at NCPAD really have thought of everything; there are tips and resources on just about every possible barrier and situation, including pregnancy. For example, they feature tips on keeping physical activity fun and switching things up, and using herbs and spices so I can cook using less salt.  I’m not a big salt fanatic anyway, but I don’t know enough about herbs and spices to be able to use them to their full potential, so the guide is incredibly helpful. There are also pointers on how to reward yourself, exercise safely, reach a healthy weight, and how to create an environment where it’s easier to make healthy choices.

This week I learned that all kinds of physical activity – cardio, strength, flexibility and mind/body exercises – can happen in a swimming pool.  You don’t even have to know how to swim properly, as long as you stay safe. I’d never thought of going to a pool to work out, because frankly my best stroke is the doggy paddle (which doesn’t exactly lend itself to a lap lane). But it turns out that even Tai Chi or jogging can work in water!

I only have two complaints about the site. First, adding someone as a “friend” doesn’t actually do anything (there’s no way to send messages or mail, and you don’t get updates on what your friends are doing). Secondly, while the site has videos demonstrating exercises that are tailored to my individual needs, I just don’t exercise at my computer so it’s hard to refer to the instructions when I need them. I could log in using the web browser on my phone, but a Smartphone app would be a lot easier since I almost always have my phone on me.

Other than that, I love the pace and tone of the site. 14 Weeks is not a race to drop a hundred pounds or work out compulsively, despite my glee at having earned 22 “badges”.  It’s a supportive, educational site that helps people with and without disabilities practice making healthy choices and set realistic goals that work for them as individuals.  Nutrition, activity and lifestyle sites rarely acknowledge people with disabilities as a group, much less give us individual guidance, so it’s refreshing and empowering to find a well-done site that does both.

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