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People with Disabilities: Let's Walk!

Man using wheelchairYou can support walkable and accessible communities that can improve the health of people with disabilities.

Let's Walk! A Movement to Rethink the Way We Talk About Walking

U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy has announced a Call to Action2 [1.27 MB] to increase walking in all parts of the United States. This involves increasing access to safe and convenient places to walk and wheelchair roll for people of all ages and abilities. His campaign, Step It Up!, calls on Americans of all abilities to commit to walking for a healthier, more active lifestyle, and to help make their communities more walkable.

Walking is a simple form of physical activity with substantial health benefits. It can be a starting point to adopting a more active lifestyle and exploring other forms of more vigorous physical activity. When cities and communities provide access to walking spaces that everybody can use, walking becomes an activity that Americans of all ages and abilities can enjoy.

Graphic: Systems designed to meet the needs of people with disability will meet the needs of everyone.

Walking is a simple form of physical activity with substantial health benefits. Show us how you walk by posting a photo, video, or message!

Let's Learn More!

The National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), with support from CDC's Disability and Health program, released a campaign to redefine the word ‘walking'. The campaign promotes walking as an inclusive physical activity that is different for everyone, but includes everyone.
Here is how you can support "How I Walk:"

  • Download the How I Walk materials add to local physical activity-related events.
  • Host an inclusive walk for people of all abilities in your community and share the results in social media using the hashtag #HowIWalk.

Let's Build it Right! What Communities Can Do

Creating opportunities for healthy, active living by people of all abilities should be a priority as we plan our communities. But too often, cities have physical and system barriers that may make it extremely difficult or impossible for people with disabilities to participate and be included in community life. The way our cities are built and how we provide access to the places where people live, work, learn, and play can either strongly encourage or serve as a major barrier to physical activity and active living.

Communities, cities, and businesses can be designed and built according to principles of accessibility or inclusive "universal design," and at little or no cost. People of all ages and abilities can reap the benefits and, for example, enjoy walkable communities where everybody has the opportunity to be physically active.

What CDC and our National Programs are Doing

CDC's Disability and Health program promotes the health and full participation in society by people with disabilities across their lifespan. We provide funding and ongoing scientific support to three National Public Health Practice and Resource Centers that help ensure programs that promote health and prevent disease are inclusive of all people with disabilities.  These centers also develop tools and resources for improving the quality of life, including physical activity, for people living with mobility limitations and intellectual disabilities [272 KB]. These three centers are:

CDC's Disability and Health program also supports 18 state-based programs to further reduce differences in health between people with and without disabilities, prevent long standing diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, and increase the quality of life for people with disabilities. Learn more about the state disability and health programs.

CDC's Disability Resources

Being healthy means the same for all of us—staying well so we can lead full, active lives. The key to being healthy for both those with and without a disability includes having the tools and information to:

  • Make healthy choices,
  • Create communities where everybody can actively participate, and
  • Provide awareness of how to prevent illness.

Visit these resources to learn more:

As CDC honors International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we ask you to join us in being a part of the global movement to change attitudes and approaches to disability, and to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in society and in programs that support health and prevent disease.

References

  1. International Day of Persons with Disabilities, 3 December 2015. United Nations Enable.
  2. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. Step it up! The surgeon General's Call to Action to promote Walking and Walkable Communities [1.27 MB]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2015.
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