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James H. Rimmer

During the last 15 years a growing number of persons with mental retardation (MR) have been relocated from large congregate facilities to residences in the community. With this trend comes the realization that exercise specialists employed in community based fitness centers will have to address the needs of a growing number of adults with MR who are beginning to access these facilities. Since adults with MR present themselves as a unique group in terms of their cognitive and physical function, this paper will address specific exercise guidelines that must be considered when developing cardiovascular fitness programs for this population.

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Karen Kunde and James H. Rimmer

The purpose was to compare heart rates and completion times of adults with MR after performing a 1-mi walk test with and without a pacer. Fifteen participants (8 males, 7 females) with mild or moderate mental retardation (M age = 38.8 years ± 10.2) performed the test a minimum of two times with a pacer and two times without a pacer. Analysis of variance revealed no significant difference between genders; thus data were combined for further analysis. Intraclass reliability coefficients (R) for walk time with a pacer, walk time without a pacer, heart rate with a pacer, and heart rate without a pacer were .99, .99, .91, and .95, respectively. Results indicated that the average walk times for the pacer and no pacer conditions were significantly different, t (14) = 3.11, p = .008. The pacer condition resulted in a faster average walk time by approximately 1 min; however, there was no significant difference between conditions on heart rate. Therefore, it is recommended that, when having adults with MR perform a walk test, a pacer should be used to assure maximum performance.

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James H. Rimmer, David Braddock and Glenn Fujiura

A body mass index (BMI) greater than 27 has been cited as a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes mellitus resulting from excess weight. The purpose of this study was to determine the association between BMI (>27) and two other obesity indices–height-weight and percent body fat–as well as to investigate the relationship between BMI and three blood lipid parameters–total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) in 329 adults with mental retardation (MR). Males were significantly taller and heavier than females, but females had a significantly higher BMI. Kendall’s Tau-C revealed a significant association between BMI and each of the following: height-weight, percent body fat, LDL-C, and HDL-C. However, there were a significant number of false negatives and false positives on each of the criteria. The congruence between at-risk BMI and two other obesity parameters (height-weight and percent body fat) in a population of adults with MR is not strong. Professionals should employ the BMI along with skinfold measures to assess a person’s at-risk status for excess weight.

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Suzanne C. Hoeppner and James H. Rimmer

The purpose of this study was to determine if self-reported exercise status (exercise, nonexercise) and ambulatory status (aid, no aid) discriminate between balance performance and balance self-efficacy of older adults, ages 65 to 95 years. Participants were 14 males and 46 females in a retirement home that contained a supervised fitness center. An activities-specific balance confidence scale and three balance performance tests yielded data. Data from males and females were combined because independent t tests revealed no significant gender differences. The Mann Whitney U test revealed that (a) exercisers (M age = 83.4) scored significantly higher than nonexercisers (M age = 83.7) on all measures, and (b) nonaid users (M age = 83.5) scored significantly higher than aid users (M age = 83.7). Findings indicate that regular exercise (at least 30 min per day, 3 days per week) and ambulation without a cane or walker are descriptors of older adults with good balance performance and high balance self-efficacy.

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James H. Rimmer and Luke E. Kelly

Very low levels of strength and muscular endurance have been reported in adults with mental retardation. A progressive resistance training program was developed for a group of adults with mental retardation (ages 23-49 yrs) using state-of-the-art equipment (Nautilus Isokinetic Systems). A MANCOVA analysis was employed to determine the differences between control and experimental groups. The analysis revealed a significant overall group effect. Subsequent univariate ANCOVA analyses were performed to isolate the significant dependent measures. Results indicated that a 2-day-a-week resistance training program was effective in improving the strength levels of this population. It was also revealed that the resistance training program was favorably received by the participants and could be performed with minimal assistance. Service providers for the mentally retarded should consider community based weight training facilities as a viable avenue for improving the strength levels of this population.

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James H. Rimmer, Dave Braddock and Glenn Fujiura

Little data exist on the comparison of blood lipids and percent body fat between Down Syndrome and non-DS adults with mental retardation (MR). The following study was undertaken to determine if there were physiological and biochemical differences between these two groups. Subjects included 294 non-DS adults with MR (162 males and 132 females) and 31 adults with Down Syndrome (21 males and 10 females). Level of mental retardation was similar for both groups (males/females, Down vs. non-DS). A two-factor ANOVA with a regression approach was used to analyze the data. Results of the study found that there were no significant differences between the Down Syndrome and non-DS subjects on total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, or percent body fat. The present study suggests that the composition of lipoproteins and storage of body fat are similar in Down Syndrome and non-DS adults with mental retardation, and that the risk for developing coronary heart disease appears to be the same for both groups.

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Luke E. Kelly and James H. Rimmer

The subjects were 170 moderately and severely mentally retarded men who were divided into two groups. The first group was used to formulate a new prediction equation and the second group was used to cross-validate and ascertain the stability of the derived equation. The prediction equation, employing waist and forearm circumferences, height and weight as predictors, and estimated percent body fat calculated by the generalized regression equation of Jackson and Pollock (1978) as the criterion measure, was formulated using a stepwise multiple regression analysis. A multiple R value of .86 was obtained for the derived equation with a standard error of estimate value of 3.35. The equation was cross-validated on the second sample to ascertain its stability. An r of .81 and a standard error of estimate of 4.41 was obtained between the subjects’ estimated percent body fat, using the new equation, and the criterion measure. This simplified equation provides practitioners with an accurate, reliable, and inexpensive method of estimating percent body fat for adult mentally retarded males.

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James H. Rimmer and Luke E. Kelly

The purpose of this pilot study was to descriptively evaluate the effects of three different programs on the development of gross motor skills of preschool children with learning disabilities (n = 29). No attempt was made to equate the groups or control for differences between the programs or instructional staff. Two of the programs were used by the respective schools to develop the gross motor skills of their audience. The programs were called occupational therapy (OT) (45–60 min/day, 5 days/week) and adapted physical education (APE) (30 min/day, 4 days/week). A third group was evaluated to determine whether maturational effects had any involvement in gross motor development. This group was called the noninstructional program (NIP) (30 min/day, 2 days/week) and was solely involved in free play. The programs were all in session for the entire school year (33–35 weeks). The results of the study revealed that the children in the APE program made more significant gains across objectives, and particularly on the qualitative measures, than did the children in the OT or NIP groups.

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Luke E. Kelly, James H. Rimmer and Richard A. Ness

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the percent body fat of 553 institutionalized mentally retarded adults, ages 18 to 40 yrs, from the Denton State School in Texas. The subjects included 343 males and 210 females. Their percent body fat was estimated with generalized regression equations. Body density for males was measured by the sum of three skinfolds, two girths, and age. Body density for females was measured by the sum of three skinfolds and age. The results from this study revealed that 45.2% of the males and 50.5% of the females were obese. The percent body fat of the female subjects was significantly greater than that of the male subjects. A post hoc analysis revealed that profoundly mentally retarded subjects had significantly lower percent body fat than those subjects functioning at the severe and mild levels. These findings indicate a serious need for more investigation of the caloric intake and expenditure of this population in an institutional environment.

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James H. Rimmer, Fiona Connor-Kuntz, Joseph P. Winnick and Francis X. Short

The purpose of this study was to determine the feasibility of the Target Aerobic Movement Test (TAMT)1 in a group of children and adolescents with spina bifida (n = 32). Thirty-two children (11 subjects-thoracic lesion, 21 subjects-lumbar lesion) volunteered for the study. Results indicated there were no significant differences in the proportion of subjects who passed Test 1 or Test 2 (p > .05). Twenty-seven out of 28 eligible subjects (96%) on Test 1 and 25 of 27 eligible subjects (93%) on Test 2 met the criteria for successful completion of the TAMT. The TAMT appears to be a reliable and feasible test for measuring aerobic behavior in children and adolescents with spina bifida. Future research should focus on studying the feasibility of the TAMT with other populations with disabilities and to also determine if the test can become a more refined discriminator of aerobic behavior and aerobic capacity.