Focus on Secondary Condition Prevention: Developing a community-based exercise program as a way to prevent secondary conditions in people with Down syndrome
|Mia Peterson, exercising|
This month's column focuses on a community-based exercise program developed by Mia Peterson, a 34-year-old Iowa woman with Down Syndrome. Mia developed her program in conjunction with her local YMCA where she has been exercising for over a year. Mia takes the city bus to the YMCA, where she exercises daily. She has experienced health benefits that include a 20-pound weight loss and increased stamina, which allows her to participate in more physically demanding activities throughout the day.
Mia's Exercise Program: Mia's routine involves exercising up to 2 hours each day. *Note: Mia is highly conditioned and has increased her endurance and stamina to work toward completion of this goal. When customizing an exercise program, consider the basic level of conditioning for that individual and set goals consistent with that person's level of fitness.
Mia's daily exercise routine includes one or more of the following activities:
- An initial warm up: this consists of stretching before she runs and dancing or doing jumping jacks before she uses the exercise equipment.
- 20 sit-ups, 20 push-ups
- Running: Mia runs at least 2 miles and, weather permitting, prefers running outdoors. However, she sometimes chooses to run on the YMCA's indoor track or one of their treadmills, and points out that running indoors eliminates worries about traffic or other potential safety concerns. When using the treadmill Mia warms up by walking and gradually begins running. Her fitness coach sets the machine at a speed that ranges from 3.5 to 5.5 for up to 30 minutes. Mia enjoys running 5K road races and is currently training for a 10-mile race.
- Weight machines: Mia performs strength training every other day for her arms, shoulders, back, stomach, and leg muscles. She performs 3 sets of 12 repetitions and especially enjoys the back extension, seated row, leg extension, and arm curl machines.
- Exercise classes: She is enrolled in spinning and kickboxing classes which she says offer her a fun way to improve her cardiovascular endurance. Other activities that Mia enjoys are shooting basketball hoops and swimming.
Safety in Exercise: Safety is an important part of Mia's exercise routine. She works with a YMCA coach for about 30 minutes during her exercise routine to ensure that she is using the weight machines correctly to avoid injury. After learning how to use the equipment correctly and having the machines set up for her routine, Mia performs the exercises independently with occasional questions for the YMCA staff and coaches.
Motivation: Mia says it motivates her to exercise when she receives encouragement from others and invitations to participate in their exercise routines. She gets additional motivation from friends and family and especially from watching others exercise. Her business, 'Aiming High,' enables her to speak to self-advocacy organizations and conferences, where she encourages others to 'aim high and reach towards the stars, because we are the stars.'
Tips for Others Wanting to Start an Exercise Program: Mia encourages others to get out and exercise. 'Make it happen for yourself!' she says with enthusiasm, and leads by example in showing that her exercise routine has been successful in improving her health. 'Just [by] moving around and doing something that you really like, you, yourself, will be excited that you did it!'