Daily physical activity in adults with mild and moderate learning disabilities: Is there enough?

Peter R. Messent, Carlton Cooke, Jonathon Long

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    50 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose: Whilst the health benefits associated with regular physical activity are well known, little objective evidence exists regarding the activity profiles of adults with mild and moderate learning disabilities. The aims of the present study were to establish 7 day physical activity profiles for 24 adults with mild and moderate learning disabilities and to compare them with the general population and current Department of Health recommendations for physical activity. Method: A descriptive study was used, based on interviews with 24 adults with learning disabilities (mean age 34 years) triangulated by daytime and residential care workers. Participants volunteered from two residential homes and one social education centre (SEC) in a city in the North of England. Results: The physical activity profiles show that the participants led sedentary lifestyles that were more exaggerated than those of the general population. Twenty-two participants (93%) performed significantly less than the minimum daily levels of physical activity recommended by the Department of Health. Conclusions: Few adults with learning disabilities can choose to walk to work, go for a run or visit the local swimming pool without adequate support. This study suggests that there may not be enough moderate or vigorous physical activity choices available in day and residential care settings to empower adults with mild and moderate learning disabilities to meet the minimum recommendations of the Department of Health. Hence some people with learning disabilities have no alternatives to a sedentary lifestyle and the health risks associated with physical inactivity.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)424-427
    Number of pages4
    JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 1998


    • Learning disabilities
    • Physical activity


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