Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their caregivers completed a 12-week fitness intervention. The intervention was a collaborative venture between a nonprofit organization serving persons with IDD and their families, a state developmental disabilities agency, and a university health and exercise science program; trained undergraduate students served as program staff. Pre- and postintervention assessments indicated statistically significant health improvements in total cholesterol and resting diastolic blood pressure; and fitness improvements in flexibility, muscular strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Participants reported the benefits of improved muscle tone, more strength, more energy, improved mood, less stress, healthier eating habits, more health awareness, better sleep patterns, more alertness, greater socialization opportunities, and renewed interest in physically active recreation activity. Caregivers reported the fitness program gave them an opportunity to do something positive for themselves while spending quality time with their adult child or sibling. Student staff reported overcoming initial fears to enjoy working with persons with IDD and an increased openness to working with this population in their careers. The need to replicate studies addressing health and wellness in these populations and to build on collaborative, cross-disciplinary interventions that demonstrate positive outcomes is validated. Collaborators stated their desire to refine the existing program and to seek additional community partners with whom to implement new programs.
Author Barbara Wilhite, Gregory Biren, Leslie Spencer
Volume Vol 46, No 4 (2012)