Adapted Physical Activity and the 112th Congress

By Auxter, David A.; Arnhold, Robert W. | Palaestra, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

Adapted Physical Activity and the 112th Congress


Auxter, David A., Arnhold, Robert W., Palaestra


Elections of November, 2010, reshaped the political landscape of the United States. There are opportunities to shape public policies through adapted physical activity, if socially relevant outcomes for people with disabilities can be demonstrated (i.e., physically active leisure lifestyles) in the 112th Congress. Adapted Physical Activity (APA) can benefit the health and well-being of people with disabilities in America and should be clearly demonstrated through community programs. It is best if health and leisure benefits through APA are done through generic inclusive community settings.

There was legislation in the 111th Congress relevant to improving the health of people in America who are disabled through adapting physical activity programs, preferably through community-based settings. Because those bills were not passed during the 111th Congress, they should be re-introduced in the 112th Congress (PALAESTRA. Summer, 2010).

Public policies are requiring greater involvement of APA in inclusive community environments requiring collaborative efforts among stakeholders. Public policy changes with respect to APA services, and professionals should attempt to adapt to these changes.

Unprecedented Opportunities for Adapted Physical Activity

It is time to assess opportunities from a legislative perspective related to APA. These opportunities are in both communities and in the public schools. The overriding theme continues to be obesity as a social problem, especially for individuals with disabilities Assessment of legislative initiatives reveals that there are opportunities for APA to make a contribution to the health and well being of people in America.

There are human and economic factors associated with overweight and obesity in the U.S. Eighty percent of acute health care costs result from chronic health conditions, and 27% of chronic health conditions are associated with obesity. Moreover. the incidence of secondary conditions arising from a primary disability is increasing, even though they are mostly preventable conditions. Constructive participation of APA professionals in improving physical activities for individuals with disabilities would have direct and health benefits.

Leisure Environments Shape Human Health Behavior

Health benefits arise from physically active leisure lifestyles. coupled with healthy eating habits, while being part of a community. APA needs to make a social contribution to population-based health and well-being. If we are to make strides in shaping positive human health behaviors of persons with disabilities, we need to restore socially valid research from the field.

The research component for adapted physical activity in past reauthorizations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was removed. Without specific support of adapted physical activity research initiatives, it has been difficult to lay a legislative foundation. We must have the data to define social needs and evidence that the legislative intervention can provide health or recreation benefits through physical activity. Research in APA must be socially relevant and validate improving the well being of people with disabilities. The research component for Adapted Physical Activity/Adapted Physical Education should be a rallying point of the field and should be restored in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA).

Strengthening the Purpose of Adapted Physical Activity in Inclusive Environments

Health and recreation benefits that improve the well being of people with disabilities result from physically active lifestyles. There is a transition from community-based public health promotion and education to medical service (medications and surgeries) to address overweight and obesity. The circulatory system from physical activity feeds needed oxygen to all organs of the body to keep it healthy. This cannot be done by medications or surgeries.

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