Training Students with Mental Retardation to Self-Pace while Exercising

in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly
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  • 1 University of South Alabama
  • | 2 University of Kansas
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This report describes an effort to train adolescents and young adults with mental retardation to modify their rates of pedaling exercycles during 10-min self-paced exercise sessions in a public school setting using commercially available heart rate (HR) monitors. A signal sounded when participants’ heart rates fell outside their predetermined cardiorespiratory conditioning ranges. During Study 1 most participants consistently avoided the alarm by pedaling at rates that maintained their HRs above their criterion levels. Study 2 included a more intensive warm-up period on the treadmill. All subjects but one consistently responded to the signal, maintaining HRs within the criterion range. Two of the participants in Study 2 were exposed to a positive reinforcement condition, with music contingent on maintaining HRs above a preset lower limit. Two subjects participated in maintenance phases and continued to exhibit relatively high HRs during exercise in the absence of signals from the HR monitor.

David N. Ellis is with the Department of Special Education, University of South Alabama, ILB 215, Mobile, AL 36688. Pamela J. Cress and Charles R. Spellman are with Parsons Research Center, University of Kansas, P.O. Box 738, Parsons, KS 67357.

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