Fitness lessons encourage healthy living for those with Down syndrome

PARK RIDGE, Ill. (WLS) -- Losing weight can be challenging for anyone - but maintaining a healthy weight can be especially difficult for adults with Down syndrome who typically have life-long struggles with obesity.

Becky Kubica, 26, went from powerless to power lifting. She can dead lift her body weight - 135 pounds. That's 50 pounds less than it was a year and a half ago. She says her secret is diet and exercise.

"Eat good food and I love Zumba so much!" Kubica said.

Kubica recently suffered a life-threatening illness. For more than eight months, she was inactive and taking medicines that promoted weight gain. It's been a tough road back.

"Becky's very strong. She switched from drinking a lot of soda to drinking a lot of water and switching to healthier foods. And even though she was still eating quite a bit, because she was making the correct choices through being educated about it and doing lots of exercise, she was able to lose the weight," said Rudy Kubica, Becky's father.

Education and regular exercise are key components at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital's Adult Down syndrome Center. Becky takes part in a weekly Zumba class and gets hands-on lessons in healthy eating.

"One of our focuses really is to try to encourage folks with Down syndrome to participate in their own health care. We firmly believe that if a person can participate in their own health care, they are more likely to be healthy," said Dr. Brian Chicoine, medical director, Adult Down syndrome Center.

Becky has won three gold medals in power lifting. She will compete in the Special Olympics Illinois summer games in June.

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