Comparative and longitudinal studies were performed to determine the effect of Special Olympic activities on the physical fitness of participants. The comparative study compared cardiovascular fitness, percent body fat, and blood lipid profiles of non-Down, mildly mentally retarded adult Special Olympic participants (SOP) with those of nontraining, nonhandicapped (NTNH) and training nonhandicapped (TNH) adults. The results indicated that SOP displayed lower fitness profiles than TNH. Male SOP demonstrated fitness profiles similar to NTNH while female SOP showed lower cardiovascular fitness levels than both TNH and NTNH. The longitudinal study compared cardiovascular fitness and percent body fat of non-Down, mildly mentally retarded adult SOP before and after 4 to 18 months of Special Olympic activities. This latter study showed no significant change in body weight, percent body fat, or cardiovascular fitness during a time period that averaged over 13 months for each participant. The results indicated that the intensity level of activity for the SOP in this study failed to improve physical fitness.
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