Research Study Abstract

Physical Activity Patterns among Children with Intellectual Disability: Very Few Meet Recommendations

  • Presented on May 30, 2013

Adults without intellectual disability (WID) are more active than persons with intellectual disability (ID). Very little is known about physical activity (PA) patterns of ID children, however.

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

Methods Anthropometric measurements were obtained among 71 ID children (47 boys) and 70 WID children (41 boys) aged 6.3-16.4 years. Accelerometers (ActiGraph GT3X+) were used to assess daily PA and PA during weekdays (wPA), weekends (wePA), school time (sPA), and after school (asPA). PA >2296 counts.min-1 was defined as moderate intensity PA (MPA) and used to calculate minutes of daily MPA and MPA during weekdays (wMPA) and weekends (weMPA).

Results WID children were taller but had lower waist circumference, body mass index, and sum of 4 skinfolds than ID children (p<0.001-0.037) after adjusting for age and sexual maturity. After aforementioned corrections, gender * group interactions were found for all PA variables (p<0.001-0.002) except for asPA (p=0.299) and wePA (p=0.060). In all cases, WID boys were more active than WID girls (p<0.001-0.007), whereas no gender differences in PA were found among ID children (p=0.116-0.709). When comparing wPA to wePA, sPA to asPA, and wMPA to weMPA, three-way interactions (gender * group * repeated variable) were observed (p<0.001-0.005). For the WID children, boys were more active than girls (p<0.001) and both genders were more active on weekdays (p=0.001-0.003). However, no difference was observed between sPA and asPA among WID girls (p=0.124) but WID boys were more active during school time than after school (p=0.019). Among the ID children, no differences were found between sPA and asPA (p=0.431), but ID boys differed more in PA between weekdays and weekends than ID girls (p<0.001-0.005). Much higher proportion (all p<0.001) of WID children met the recommended 60 min of MPA daily (54.3%), during weekdays (58.6%), and during weekends (30.0%) than ID children (5.6% 11.3%, and 5.6%, respectively).

Conclusions PA is much higher among WID children than ID children among which gender differences seem to be non-existent. Only a small portion of ID children reach the recommended daily PA level. Sponsor: Icelandic Research Centre (project grant)


  • Gunnhildur Hinriksdóttir 1
  • Ingi T. Einarsson 1
  • Daniel Daly 2
  • Erlingur Jóhannsson 1
  • Sigurbjörn Á. Arngrímsson 1


  • 1

    University of Iceland, Laugarvatn, Iceland

  • 2

    Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. (Sponsor: Ellen M. Evans, FACSM)

Presented at

ACSM 2013 Annual Meeting


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