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Chronic disease in children and adults with special needs

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Chronic disease in children and adults with special needs is more prevalent than in the general population and researchers are pointing to physical activity as an effective strategy for good health. Ideally, children begin regular physical activity and continue as adults. However, even your adult special needs child can begin exercise to better health.

Physical activity is important to to good health especially as you age and it is especially important for people with special needs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that "adults with disabilities who have no aerobic physical activity are 50 percent more likely than their active peers to have a chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, stroke or heart disease." Sadly, even though most see a doctor at a minimum of once per year, the doctors do not recommend any type of physical activity for their patients with special needs.

The findings for working age adults with disabilities are frightening, such as the likelihood they have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer is three times more likely than adults without disabilities. Sadly, close to 50% of people with disabilities practice no aerobic activities which is a proactive behavior that can reduce the risk of developing these chronic diseases.

The positive side of the research is that when doctors recommend that their patients with special needs become physically active, the majority of this patient group follows the recommendations. The CDC has a resource page for physicians and interested people on approaching people and recommending physical activities for people with disabilities, whether youth or adult.

Thoughts and comments? Contact Pat Wright.

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