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Increasing Inclusive Physical Fitness Opportunities in Carroll, Iowa

State: Iowa

Submitted Date: 2018

Public Health Issue
  • Regular physical activity supports healthy bones and muscles, decreases the likelihood of developing obesity and other chronic diseases, and promotes mental health.
  • Individuals with developmental disabilities may not participate in physical fitness activities for reasons that include: having a fixed income that limits their ability to afford a gym membership or appropriate gym attire; inability to drive to a fitness center; lack of knowledge about physical activity options and appropriate exercises; and uncertainty about how to use gym equipment.
Program Action
  • Through the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors Reaching People with Disabilities through Healthy Communities project, Homecare Options, a Carroll home care agency, and Platinum Fitness, a Carroll fitness center, partnered to make the center more accessible for people with developmental disabilities.
  • The organizational changes initiated to help people with developmental disabilities include the following:
    • Free or reduced price fitness center memberships
    • Access to personal trainers
    • Assistance with purchasing shoes that are appropriate for exercising at the fitness center
    • Transportation to Platinum Fitness as part of a new set of standard operating procedures
  • The organizational changes to the fitness center made fitness opportunities more available to Carroll residents with developmental disabilities, including cardio equipment exercises, hot yoga, and personal weight training sessions. More than 50 people with developmental disabilities participate using the free or reduced price gym membership. Participants experienced successes such as weight loss, increased mobility, less depression, and greater likelihood of trying new activities such as a 5K race.
  • Access to personal trainers is helping fitness center members with developmental disabilities reduce anxiety related to trying new activities while promoting safe use of the exercise equipment and encouraging regular exercise.
  • Homecare Options and Platinum Fitness initiated a community program that pairs volunteers with fitness center members who have developmental disabilities for workouts and for participation in community physical activity events, such as a 5k run. This program promotes both social and health inclusion for people with developmental disabilities.
Kristin Nehring
Homecare Options, Inc.