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The Importance of Exercise for Individuals with Down Syndrome

October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month! Down Syndrome is an intellectual disability characterized by low muscle tone, difficulty with speech, a distinct facial structure, and developmental delays. Although individuals with DS have some physical limitations, they can participate in most physical activities as individuals without a disability. Research has shown that regular aerobic exercise can decrease fat and lean body mass, improve overall health, and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, or other health problems in individuals with DS.

Several studies have shown that individuals with Down Syndrome have maximum heart rates that are 10% lower than individuals with other intellectual disabilities. People with DS have a functional aerobic impairment, lower peak oxygen consumption, joint hypermobility, and muscle hypotonicity. These characteristics impact their functional ability. A loss of functional ability means a loss of independence.

Research has shown that walking, jogging, swimming, and cycling are all ways individuals with CP can improve underdeveloped respiratory and cardiovascular systems. One study made a conclusion that people with DS who performed 30 minutes of aerobic training and 15 minutes of strength training 3 days per week showed significant improvement in cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength, and endurance.

Overall, it is important for individuals with and without Down Syndrome to participate in regular exercise to improve overall health. Our staff at Ability Fitness is trained in adaptive fitness and is happy to provide the support you need to reach your goals! For more information on adaptive fitness, please visit our services page or feel free to reach out to us at!


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