Our Athletes

Catching Up With Hillary

For Autism Awareness Month, we get fitness advice and tips from a wise Health Messenger.
Hillary Kern Fitness

Special Olympics athlete Hillary Kern knows a lot about health and fitness. In her role as a Health Messenger, she is all about empowering people with intellectual disabilities—and everyone—to lead healthier lives.

She also worked on a series of fitness and motivational videos for Team Texas ahead of the 2018 USA Games. The videos were a big hit. Hillary says she gets inspiration from the Special Olympics Fit5 fitness guide. It’s based on the three simple goals: exercise 5 days per week, eat 5 total fruits and vegetables per day, and drink 5 water bottles of water per day.

Hillary says, "To be a great athlete you need to be a healthy athlete." And to start on the path to fitness, she tells people: “you can start small, with one change, and build on that first step.”

Hillary has also learned how exercise can help her with any issues associated with autism/pervasive development disorder. This is especially true during a time when people are being extra cautious due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But what has Hillary been doing since the 2018 USA Games—and has she been keeping to her exercise regimen? We asked her a few questions and got great answers:

Q. How have you been staying fit since USA Games, especially now that so many gyms are closed?
A. I have been staying fit by walking my dogs many times everyday. I have been trying to play tennis at least one a week since it was in the middle of tennis season when Special Olympics had to cancel the events. I have hit balls with my Mom and doing footwork on the courts.

Q. What workouts do you recommend to your teammates?
A. Try new exercises that are easy and new to you. I like doing exercises that engage different muscles in our bodies.

Q. What is your favorite fitness move?
A. My favorite fitness move is the plank because it uses a lot of muscles at one time. Also, wall push-ups and using a filled water bottle to lift as weight.

Q. What are your favorite healthy snacks?
A. My favorite healthy snack Is carrots.

Q. How does exercise help you manage stress?
A. It helps me relax to go for a walk outside. Fresh air calms me and I am not worried about things.

Q. How does exercise help you stay healthy?
A. It helps me stay healthy as long as I try some sort of activity or exercise everyday.

Hillary adds, “I feel happy when I get to work out, because I get to clear my mind and not think about what is going on around the world right now… If I don’t get to work out, I feel like I am stuck inside and can’t get out. So, I end up deciding to want to take my dogs for a walk. So, I can at least get exercise and fresh air.”

If you need even more inspiration, here’s a (very!) quick clip of Hillary inspiring us to get busy on some
leg raises, push-ups and curl-ups…all in 30secs!!

Hillary talks about the importance of being a self-advocate.

Meet a Self-Advocate: Hillary Kern

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