Effects of a minimally supervised exercise program for mentally retarded adults

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Pitetti, Kenneth H.
Tan, Daphne M.

Medicine and science in sports and exercise. 1991 May; 23(5): 594-601.


Previous exercise studies that attempted to improve the cardiovascular fitness (CVF) of mentally retarded (MR) adults were flawed with methodological shortcomings that prevented conclusive results. At issue in these training studies were fitness test validity and reliability, exactness of duration and intensity of training, and an inordinate amount of supervision. Therefore, we sought to determine whether moderately MR adults (seven males, five females; IQ = 61 +/- 3, age = 25 +/- 3 yr) could improve their CVF through a minimally supervised 16-wk training program. Each subject repeated exercise tests twice on two different modes of exercise, the treadmill (TM) and Schwinn Air-Dyne ergometer (SAE), before training to ensure validity and reliability of initial CVF levels. Intensity and frequency of exercise were closely monitored. An observer was present during the training bouts, but, following initial instructions, no additional encouragement or instructions were given. Although the training program significantly increased peak VO2 (29.2 +/- 8 to 33.5 +/- 9 ml.kg-1.min-1) and peak ventilation (73 +/- 26 to 81 +/- 231.min-1) when assessed on the TM, significant changes in these same parameters were not seen when assessed on the SAE. The importance of these results was discussed.

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