Systematic Review of Interventions Aiming to Improve Involvement in Physical Activity Among Adults With Intellectual Disability

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Evidence suggests that most adults with intellectual disability do not participate in sufficient amounts of physical activity (PA). A systematic review of peer-reviewed studies that reported an intervention aiming to improve PA levels of adults with intellectual disability was conducted.


Keywords related to intellectual disability and physical activity were used to search relevant databases. Studies were excluded if they did not measure PA as an outcome for adults with intellectual disability, were non-English, and were not peer-reviewed. All relevant studies were included in the review regardless of methodological quality and design.


Six articles met the inclusion criteria. These included health education or health promotion programs with PA, nutrition, and weight loss components. The quality of studies included in this review was generally poor. Most studies used a prepost design, sample sizes were small, and measurement tools were used that are not valid and reliable for the population assessed.


PA interventions have the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of people with intellectual disability, a vulnerable group who require attention from public health practitioners and researchers. Given the health inequities that exist, public health researchers should target efforts to improve PA levels among this group.

Brooker (, van Dooren, McPherson, Lennox, and Ware are with the Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability (QCIDD), School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Ware is also with the School of Population Health, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.