Your center for information on serving various populations within a wellness setting, as well as tips on starting and maintaining a wellness business.

Transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.
(APTA Vision Statement)

"Physical therapy" means any of the following: Reducing the risk of injury, impairment, functional limitation and disability, including the promotion and maintenance of fitness, health and wellness in populations of all ages as well as engaging in administration, consultation, education and research. (Pennsylvania Practice Act, Def. amended July 4, 2008, P.L.293, No.38)

You should consult with your physical therapist, physician or other health care provider before performing physical activity.

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Wellness and Physical Activity for Children

  • Children and adolescents should do an hour or more of physical activity daily.
  • Age appropriate activities should include aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and bone strengthening.
  • At least three sessions each week should include vigorous aerobic activity.
  • At least three sessions each week should include muscle strengthening like push-ups or gymnastics.
  • At least three sessions each week should include bone strengthening like jumping rope or running.
  • Physical activity helps with controlling weight, reducing blood pressure, raising HDL ("good") cholesterol, reducing the risk of diabetes and some kinds of cancer, improved psychological well-being, including gaining more self-confidence and higher self-esteem.
  • Physical activity should be increased by reducing sedentary time (e.g., watching television, playing computer video games or talking on the phone).
  • Physical activity should be fun for children and adolescents.
  • Parents should try to be role models for active lifestyles and provide children with opportunities for increased physical activity.
  • Children should be participating in 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Physical activity is an important part of physical, social, emotional and mental development. For parents of children with disabilities the lack of accessible playgrounds and fitness and recreation venues can be a factor in limited physical activity participation.
  • For more information on promoting children and family participation see the APTA Fact Sheet: “Promoting Your Child’s Development: Information Resources for Families of Children with Disabilities”

References upon request.

Other Links - Wellness for Children
Action for Healthy Kids® (collaboration of organizations, corporations and government agencies)
Extensive Website Sponsored by Nemours Foundation
PA Office of Childhood Development and Early Learning
Women's and Children's Health Network, South Australia
Prevention of, and Response to Concussions



Fitness and Wellness for Adults - Background

  • Regular physical activity helps improve your overall health and fitness, and reduces your risk for many chronic diseases.
  • Fitting regular exercise into your daily schedule may seem difficult at first, but the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans are more flexible than ever, giving you the freedom to reach your physical activity goals through different types and amounts of activities each week. It's easier than you think!

Key Guidelines for Adults without Disabilities

  • All adults should avoid inactivity. Some physical activity is better than none, and adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits.
  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous intensity aerobic activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, and preferably, it should be spread throughout the week.
  • For additional and more extensive health benefits, adults should increase their aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate intensity, or 150 minutes a week of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity. Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond this amount.
  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on two or more days per week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.
  • For additional information see the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Key Guidelines for Adults with Disabilities

  • People with disabilities are reaching new heights in physical fitness everyday! Take a look at the athletes with various disabilities who participated at the highest level in his or her sport at the Paralympic games in Rio De Janeiro in 2016 (TEAM USA PARALYMPICS).
  • Being a Paralympian is not a requirement for participating in adaptive exercise, sports, and recreation though! There are a host of resources to assist your clients who have disabilities started on a lifestyle physical activity program. The purpose of this web page is to provide you with educational resources to assist you in guiding your clients’ growth and development and improve their health and well-being through physical activity that is fun and exciting.
  • Reducing barriers to physical activity begins with having accessible fitness facilities, universally designed exercise equipment and staff who is educated and trained in working with people who have disabilities and accessibility concerns. If you would like to know more about how your equipment, facility, and personnel matches up to some of the guidelines, then view Removing Barriers to Health Clubs and Fitness Facilities: A Guide for Accommodating All Members, Including People with Disabilities and Older Adults and Before and After a Fitness Center Makeover
  • The importance of maintaining strength, range of motion and preventing repetitive upper extremity strain and injury in manual wheelchair users cannot be understated. The following document will help you and your client to integrate measures for protecting the upper extremity during daily wheelchair use, exercise and activities of daily living. Preservation of Upper Limb Function: What You Should Know, a Guide for People with Spinal Cord Injuries
  • The gold standard for determining aerobic fitness is a graded maximal exercise stress test. You will find it helpful to research local universities, hospitals, or outpatient centers in your area who have the personnel (e.g., exercise physiologist) and the equipment to conduct an exercise stress testing with appropriate equipment (e.g., arm ergometry or wheelchair ergometry for wheelchair users). The following guidelines on fitness testing were developed by the National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability: (NCHPAD Fitness Assessments for Wheelchair Users)
  • For additional information see the 2019 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

View the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations for physical activity for adults with disabilities.

  • For Aerobic:
    • At least 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e., brisk walking; wheeling oneself in a wheelchair); or
    • 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (i.e., jogging, handcycling, wheelchair basketball); or
    • A mix of both moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activities each week (1 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity is approximately equal to 2 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
  • For Muscle-Strengthening: 
    • Activities that are moderate or high intensity and involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week (i.e., working with resistance bands; adapted yoga) as these activities provide additional health benefits.

References upon request.

Other Links for Physical Activity Guidelines

Nutritional Recommendations

Tools for Healthy Living

Examples of Fitness and Wellness Initiatives

National Organizations with Guidelines for Specific Populations or Conditions



Wellness With Seniors 

Seniors, AKA "Baby Boomers," are a significant population that utilize fitness and  health care services. Much of aging's debility and illness can be minimized by seniors staying fit. The presence of a fitness/wellness program as a component of a physical therapy practice, or as a stand-alone service can benefit the senior population.

Exercise Regularly

  • Keeping active maintains an individual's ability to walk, which is especially important to maintain a level of independence.
  • Exercise can improve and maintain balance and posture, reducing the risk of falling.
  • Exercise can boost strength, endurance and flexibility. It promotes bone strength. Repeated mild stress on bones helps maintain their calcium content and structure.
  • Exercise also helps to maintain muscle mass and tone that we start losing after age 30. Exercise stimulates muscle growth and slows this process. Muscle also uses more calories than fat tissue. As we increase or maintain our muscle mass we create a better 'metabolic machine' for burning calories. Strong muscles also protect joints and reduce the effect of wear and tear to a joint.
  • Exercise is also important for joint health. Repetitive motion promotes the body's natural process of lubricating joint surfaces. This may help lessen joint stiffness and achiness.
  • The stronger your muscles are, the more weight and stress they can handle. As we age, our joints begin to gradually weaken from typical wear and tear. Stronger muscles take weight and stress away from your joints.
  • As with any population, Seniors should be medically cleared to participate in a fitness program. Participants should be aware of the effect medications may have on their body, and how exercise may influence a medication’s response.

Exercise Safely

  • Use common sense and don't exercise when you have a cough, fever, cold or flu. Don't let a temporary illness put a permanent stop to your exercising though. Resume your activities as soon as you can.
  • After an illness, start your exercise program at the beginning again. Do not immediately take up where you left off. Your body needs time to recover and rebuild. Consult a physician even if your illness is minor.
  • Be alert to air quality if you work out at a gymnasium, especially if you have a lung condition such as asthma or bronchitis. Exercise at less-crowded times during the cold and flu season. Exercise outdoors whenever weather permits.
  • If you live near an enclosed shopping mall, consider becoming a mall walker. Many malls open before the stores do and allow people to walk around. This allows you to exercise even if the weather is bad.

Exercise with a Disability

  • Physical activity for people with and without disabilities has numerous benefits including reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity. There are over 21 million people with disabilities in the United States and the Centers for Disease Control notes that almost half of all adults with disabilities do not participate in any exercise that would help to prevent secondary health conditions. Physical activity is vitally important to the health of people with disabilities. 
  • One of the top evidence-based educational resources for clinicians and people with disabilities is the National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD). This website provides clinicians and clients with summaries of evidence-based articles on exercise for various populations (e.g., stroke, arthritis, spinal cord injury, spina bifida). Clients can sign up for the “14 Weeks to a Healthier You” program where they will have access to exercise videos that feature people with disabilities and a personal trainer to consult. For clinicians, the Community Health Inclusion Sustainability Planning Guide (CHISP) is available to assist you with starting healthy activities within your community (National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability planning guide to include disabled community in health initiatives).

References upon request.

Other Links - Wellness for Seniors



The Business of Wellness

  • Although new models of care and new means of payment have created a fair amount of uncertainty for health care providers including the Physical Therapist/PTA team, nothing could be more certain than the need for citizens to maximize their health in order to ensure the highest possible quality of life. Physical Therapists have an excellent opportunity to leverage their knowledge and skills not only to restore mobility and function but to help the clients and communities they serve to maximize health at a fair profit.
  • Reviewing and Interpreting Health Information - using history taking and interviewing skills to help a client understand the risks they face.
  • Creating a Health Action Plan - using knowledge of exercise and lifestyle in coordination with the client’s values to develop a set of reasonable goals and a personalized plan to achieve them in the most efficient way possible.

References upon request.

Journal Articles and Links



Watch this Video

Rebecca M. Meehan, PT, WCS, PYT-C
Embody Physiotherapy & Wellness
Sewickley, PA




Please let us know if we can help you with wellness/prevention questions, clinical or administrative. This service is available to APTA Pennsylvania members only, please.