Helping Family Members With Special Needs Meet Their Fitness Goals


Group of kids playing soccer.

Getting in shape, eating better and exercising regularly are all common goals we set for ourselves. These things help us lower stress, improve self-esteem, physical endurance and stamina, and improve our general well-being. Individuals with special needs often share in these same goals and can achieve their health and fitness goals with the help of an adaptive fitness and nutrition plan. Here are some tips to help family members with a disability meet their fitness goals:

  • Meet with a doctor or health care professional to develop a program that combines safety considerations with realistic goals. Fitness comes in all forms, and a doctor can recommend modifications for physical activities and traditional exercises to make activities more inclusive. Always follow up on a regular basis with any suggestions or concerns or to make adjustments to the program if necessary.
  • Eat a healthy diet. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has useful information and motivational messages to keep the whole family on the path to healthy eating. If your family member has special dietary restrictions, coordinate with the doctor or nutritionist to develop a nutrition plan. The Food and Drug Administration's "Food Allergies: What You Need to Know" can help you identify common food allergies, learn the symptoms of an allergic reaction and understand food labels to avoid potential allergens.

Take advantage of the tools and resources to track progress to achieve fitness goals.

  • SuperTracker from USDA can combine healthy eating goals and physical activity in one place. List your top five personal goals with feedback from a virtual coach, track food intake and physical activity; receive weight management guidance and more. Create a personalized nutrition and activity plan and keep a record of achievements.

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