The aerobic power and body composition of 18 sightless adolescents (10 males and 8 females) has been tested by standard laboratory techniques. While attending a residential school and participating in specific sessions of vigorous endurance activity at least three times per week, their fitness was comparable to that of normally sighted adolescents (estimated body fat 14.9, 25.3%, directly measured cycle ergometer maximum oxygen intake 51.7, 39.7 ml $$ kg-1 min-1). However, after a 10-week summer vacation spent with their parents, the physical condition of these children had deteriorated to levels previously reported for blind children (estimated body fat 14.7, 27.1%, directly measured maximum oxygen intake 44.9, 33.7 ml $$ kg-1 min-1). It is concluded that sightless students can attain normal levels of fitness for their age if given an adequate and suitably adapted physical activity program. However, if condition is to be maintained, programs should stress patterns of activity suited to the home environment, which typically has no special equipment or trained guides.
Josie di Natale, Mary Lee, Graham Ward and Roy J. Shephard
Heather Hattin, Graham R. Ward, Marianne Fraser and Roy J. Shephard
Fitness levels have been tested in a sample of 29 functionally deaf students (15 boys and 14 girls) of average age 13.5 years and compared to deaf and blind children of similar age—published by Cumming, Goulding, and Baggley (1971) and by Lee, Ward, and Shephard (1985). Maximum attained oxygen intake, maximum power output, and 12-min run scores were less than anticipated in the general Canadian population of this age. This seems to be a reflection of difficulty in stimulating all-out effort, since the physical working capacity at a heart rate of 170 bpm was well up to figures observed in a recent national sample. All fitness scores were closely comparable with a previous study of deaf children in Winnipeg (Cumming et al., 1971). Our data do not support the hypothesis that deafness stimulates hyperactivity, with the resultant development of an unusual level of fitness. Indeed, many deaf children could profitably be stimulated to undertake more endurance exercise.