Identifying factors that influence physical activity (PA) among individuals with Down syndrome is essential for PA promotion. Insight can be gained from guardians and health professionals. The purpose of this study was to explore the perspectives of guardians and health professionals on facilitators and barriers of PA in individuals with Down syndrome. Interviews were conducted with 11 guardians (five mothers, four fathers, and two legal guardians) and 11 professionals (four PA specialists, three physical therapists, and four occupational therapists). Grounded theory was applied. Barriers and facilitators fit the levels of the ecological model of health behavior: (a) intrapersonal (perceived rewards), (b) interpersonal (interaction), (c) community (availability of programs), (d) organizational (school systems), and (e) policy (education). Guardians and professionals agreed on the importance of enjoyment, interaction, and programs to promote PA. Differences between groups were identified at the organizational and policy levels. PA in persons with Down syndrome is influenced by interactions between individual and environmental factors.
Emma E. Schultz, Katerina Sergi, Gregg Twietmeyer, Nicolas M. Oreskovic, and Stamatis Agiovlasitis
Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Raktim Mitra, Ritu Sharma, and Sarah A. Moore
This study explored the association between socioecological factors and outdoor physical activity (PA) and play in children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents (N = 133) completed a survey to report changes in their child’s outdoor PA and play during the pandemic (from prepandemic levels), and child, household, and neighborhood environment factors. Children with a PA-supporting parent and from multichild and White households had lower odds of reporting decreased outdoor PA. Children from multichild, higher income, married couple households and a PA-supporting parent had lower odds of decreased outdoor play. Living in neighborhoods with higher urbanization (i.e., high dwelling density, street intersections, and land-use mix) was associated with greater odds of decreased outdoor PA and play. Future research that uses larger and more representative samples of children with disabilities is needed to test for the multivariate effects of socioecological variables on outdoor PA and play.
Heidi Stanish, Samantha M. Ross, Byron Lai, Justin A. Haegele, Joonkoo Yun, and Sean Healy
The U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth has tracked 10 physical activity (PA) indicators common to the Active Healthy Kids Global Matrix since 2014. This article expands on the U.S. report cards by presenting PA indicator assessments among children and adolescents with disabilities. Grades for indicators were assigned based on a search of peer-reviewed articles presenting nationally representative data. The Global Matrix 3.0 benchmarks and grading framework guided the process. Grades for overall PA, sedentary behaviors, organized sports, and school were F, D+, D+, and D, respectively. Insufficient evidence existed to assign grades to the remaining six indicators. There is a need in the United States for targeted PA promotion strategies that are specific to children and adolescents with disabilities. Without a commitment to this effort across sectors and settings, the low grades identified in this para report card are expected to remain.
Brantley K. Ballenger, Emma E. Schultz, Melody Dale, Bo Fernhall, Robert W. Motl, and Stamatis Agiovlasitis
This systematic review examined whether physical activity interventions improve health outcomes in adults with Down syndrome (DS). We searched PubMed, APA PsycInfo, SPORTDiscus, APA PsycARTICLES, and Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection using keywords related to DS and physical activity. We included 35 studies published in English since January 1, 1990. Modes of exercise training programs included aerobic exercise, strength training, combined aerobic and strength training, aquatic, sport and gaming, and aerobic and strength exercise interventions combined with health education. The evidence base indicates that aerobic and strength exercise training improve physical fitness variables including maximal oxygen uptake, maximal heart rate, upper and lower body strength, body weight, and body fat percentage. Sport and gaming interventions improve functional mobility, work task performance, and sport skill performance. We concluded that adults with DS can accrue health benefits from properly designed physical activity and exercise interventions.
Brynn Adamson, Mina Woo, Toni Liechty, Chung-Yi Chiu, Nic Wyatt, Cailey Cranny, and Laura Rice
Lack of disability awareness of fitness professionals is a well-established barrier to exercise participation among people with disabilities that is likely related to the lack of disability awareness training for group fitness instructors. The purposes of this study were to develop, implement, and evaluate a disability awareness training for group fitness instructors. A 90-min video training and resource manual were developed. We recruited 10 group fitness instructors from one recreation center to participate. Participants completed baseline, posttraining, and 2-month follow-up testing on survey-based outcomes including disability attitudes, confidence in exercise adaptations, and training satisfaction. Participants’ confidence to adapt fitness classes was significantly improved; however, disability attitudes were high in the pretest and not significantly different posttraining. Semistructured interviews were conducted posttraining and revealed three themes: Formal disability training is needed, Managing inclusive class dynamics, and Training suggestions and satisfaction. This training demonstrated a feasible intervention for increasing disability awareness among community-based group fitness instructors.
Meredith Wekesser, Guilherme H. Costa, Piotr J. Pasik, and Karl Erickson
Adapted sport participation can have many positive benefits for adults with disabilities. However, one barrier to implementing successful adapted sport programs is lack of knowledgeable volunteers who understand accessibility and disability. In fact, little is known about volunteers’ experiences in adapted sport programs. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively examine experiences of able-bodied volunteers in an adapted sport program. A sample of 105 able-bodied volunteers (M age = 24.28 ± 1.93) completed an online qualitative survey to share their experiences. Data were analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis, and seven main themes were identified. Results showed that despite differences in initial motives for volunteering, involvement in an adapted sport program was transformative and, for some, life changing. Able-bodied volunteers experienced a wide range of benefits including deeper understanding and awareness of disability and inclusion in sport. Practical recommendations are provided for volunteer-based adapted sport program leaders.
Nima Dehghansai, Alia Mazhar, and Joseph Baker
Research pertaining to the experiences and motives of Paralympic athletes who transfer between sports is scant. This study aimed to address this gap through semistructured interviews with Canadian Paralympic coaches (n = 35) and athletes (n = 12). Three higher-order themes of “alternative to retirement,” “career extension,” and “compatibility” were identified. The subthemes of “psychobehavioral” and “physical and physiological” (from the higher-order theme of alternative to retirement) captured reasons leading to transfer, which are similar to reasons athletes may consider retirement. The subthemes of career extension—“better opportunities” and “beneficial outcomes”—shed light on factors that contributed to the withdrawal of negative experiences and reinforcement of positive outcomes associated with transferring sports. Last, compatibility had three subthemes of “resources,” “sport-specific,” and “communication,” which encapsulated factors athletes should consider prior to their transfer. In conclusion, the participants highlighted the importance of transparent and effective communication between athletes and sports to align and establish realistic expectations for everyone involved.
Anna M. Martin, Donghyun Ryu, Robin C. Jackson, and David L. Mann
Para sport classification aims to minimize the impact of impairments on the outcome of competition. The International Paralympic Committee requires classification systems to be evidence based and sport specific, yet the sport of goalball uses a structure that is not supported by evidence demonstrating its legitimacy for competition. This study aimed to establish expert opinions on how a sport-specific system of classification should be structured in the sport of goalball. Using a three-round Delphi survey, 30 international experts expressed their views across topics linked to goalball classification. Participants were divided as to whether the current system fulfills the aim to minimize the impact of impairment on competition. Most felt that less impairment should be required to compete but that the one-class structure should remain. Experts identified measures of visual function that should be considered and 15 core components of individual goalball performance. Findings constitute a crucial first step toward evidence-based classification in goalball.
Yeshayahu Hutzler, Riki Tesler, Avinoam Gilad, Kwok Ng, and Sharon Barak
Children and adolescents with disabilities (CAWD) represent 11% of Israeli children and adolescents. The 10 core indicators of the Global Matrix on Para Report Cards of physical activity (PA) of CAWD were used to create the 2022 Israeli Para Report Card. A panel of four experts reviewed resources and synthesized evidence of PA behaviors and policies for CAWD in Israel, converted the data to grades, and charted subcategories of language, sex, and disability across population. Data sources were surveys, reports, and memberships in sport federations and clubs. Among CAWD, levels of participation in daily PA were poor (<20%; Grade F), and participation of CAWD in sports was even lower (<10%; Grade F). A lack of environmental infrastructure may explain the low levels of participation. Females, Arabic speakers, and physiological CAWD need particular attention. Establishing governmental policies and interventions is required to increase overall PA and participation in sports among CAWD.