Effects of Physical Activity on Youth with Developmental Disabilities


  • Kayla Walker
  • Lauren Cavanaugh


Developmental disability, physical activity, secondary health conditions, preventable disease, active lifestyle


Youth with developmental disabilities have been observed to be less active than their typically developing peers. These youth are at a higher risk for secondary preventable diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Research studies have suggested that group activities, aquatics, and free play encourage physical activity in youth with developmental disabilities. Adopting a physically active lifestyle can reduce or even eliminate secondary diseases. In addition, using different teaching methods that introduce physical activities such as video prompting can promote an active lifestyle in these youth. Increasing activity in youth can help eliminate sedentary lifestyles as adults by improving future lifestyle choices going into adulthood. An active lifestyle may also improve social and communication skills through interactions and teamwork with other youth who are involved in the same activity. This paper will review previous research supporting active lifestyles for individuals with developmental disabilities as well as provide examples of program opportunities these individuals can participate in. 

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