Children and adolescents with Down syndrome, physical fitness and physical activity

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Pitetti, Kenneth H.
Baynard, Tracy
Agiovlasitis, Stamatis

Pitetti, Kenneth H.; Baynard, Tracy; Agiovlasitis, Stamatis. 2012. Children and adolescents with Down syndrome, physical fitness and physical activity. Journal of Sport and Health Science, Available online 8 November 2012.


Children (5–12 years) and adolescents (13–19 years) with Down syndrome (DS) possess a set of health, anatomical, physiological, cognitive, and psycho-social attributes predisposing them to limitations on their physical fitness and physical activity (PA) capacities. The paucity of studies and their conflicting findings prevent a clear understanding and/or substantiation of these limitations. The purpose of this article was to review the measurement, determinants and promotion of physical fitness and PA for youth (i.e., children and adolescents) with DS. The existing body of research indicates that youth with DS: 1) have low cardiovascular and muscular fitness/exercise capacity; 2) demonstrate a greater prevalence of overweight and obesity; 3) a large proportion do not meet the recommended amount of daily aerobic activity; and 4) their PA likely declines through childhood and into adolescence. Future research should focus on: 1) strength testing and training protocols; 2) methodologies to determine physical activity levels; and 3) practical interventions to increase PA.

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