Research Study Abstract

Physical Activity Of Children With Moderate-to-severe Intellectual Disability In Icelandic Primary Schools

  • Presented on May 31, 2014

Background: Adults with intellectual disability (ID) are less physically active than persons without ID (WID). However, very little is known about physical activity (PA) patterns of ID children and adolescents.

Purpose: To investigate PA patterns of Icelandic primary school children with mild-to-severe ID.

Methods: Anthropometric measurements were obtained from 91 ID children (62 boys) and 93 WID children (58 boys) aged 6.3-16.4 years. Accelerometers (ActiGraph GT1M) were used to assess daily PA and PA during weekdays (wPA), weekends (wePA), school time (sPA), and after school (asPA). PA >2296 counts/min was defined as moderate intensity PA (MPA) and used to calculate minutes of MPA.

Results: WID children were taller and had lower Σskinfold than ID children, and ID boys had greater waist circumference than ID girls after adjusting for age and sexual maturity (p<.05). Furthermore, based on BMI, 33% of ID children were overweight or obese but only 20% of WID children. WID children were significantly more active (p<.05) and WID boys were more active (p<.05) than WID girls. The WID children had greater wPA, wePA, sPA, and asPA than the ID children (p<.05). wPA was greater (p<.05) than wePA among the WID children and WID boys had greater wPA and wePA than WID girls (p<.05), but no gender difference or difference between wPA and wePA was found in the ID group. ID children had greater sPA (p<.05) than asPA but no gender differences were observed. In contrast, sPA and asPA did not differ among the WID children but WID boys had greater sPA (p<.05) than WID girls. Only 16% of ID children actively commuted to school and 25% participated in organized sport more than 1 h/week, whereas these proportions were 74% and 76% for WID, respectively (p<.05). A much higher proportion (p<.05) of WID children met the recommended 60 min of MPA daily (38.3%), during weekdays (41.6%), and during weekends (21.3%) than ID children (4.6%, 5.6%, and 0.0%, respectively).

Conclusions: PA is much higher among WID children than ID children in which gender differences were not observed. Only a very small portion of ID children met the recommended daily PA level, suggesting potential for serious health problem.

Support: Icelandic Research Centre (project grant)


  • Ingi T. Einarsson1 1
  • Daniel Daly 2
  • Erlingur Jóhannsson 1
  • Sigurbjörn Á. Arngrímsson 1


  • 1

    University of Iceland, Laugarvatn, Iceland

  • 2

    KULeuven, Leuven, Belgium

  • Sponsor: Ellen M. Evans, FACSM

Presented at

ACSM 2014 Annual Meeting


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