Development of Run/walk Training Programs for Adults with Mental Retardation

Palaestra, Winter 1991 | Go to article overview

Development of Run/walk Training Programs for Adults with Mental Retardation


Development of Run/Walk Training Programs For Adults With Mental Retardation

Introduction

If adults with mental retardation (MR) are to improve their inferior fitness levels in order to lead more productive and healthy life styles, then programs of health related physical fitness (HRPF) must be developed. While run/walk fitness programs are easy to administer and have demonstrated HRPF benefits with the general population, a number of unique factors exist when introducing these programs to persons with MR. In general, because persons with MR possess below average cognitive ability and limited past involvement in structured programs of physical activity, they may lack the skills and fitness levels necessary to successfully complete such a training program. More specifically, a lack of proper pacing techniques and the inability to cope with breathlessness and fatigue during a run or walk may interfere with program participation. For these reasons, to date, the research is limited regarding development of run/walk programs for persons with MR. Another issue, which has not been adequately addressed in the literature, relates to maintenance once fitness levels for persons with MR are reached, without elaborate forms of supervision.

The Study

The purpose of the study was to develop a systematic 28-week run/walk program to determine the run/walk performance of 13 adults (X=37 years and X=53 IQ) with MR residing and working in a rural community in the midwest. The actual program was 30 weeks in duration, meeting 3 times per week, with two weeks to determine pretest and post-test measures, 22 weeks of a structured 30-minute run/walk program, which included running partners as well as warm-up and cool down exercises, followed by a 6-week maintenance phase with limited supervision.

Results

Research results revealed a significant (p<0.05) difference between the pretest and post-test period and the pretest, maintenance period on the performance of the Cooper 12-Minute run/walk test. In addition, a significant difference was determined in the pretest, post-test performance of sit-ups.

Program Application

In general, run/walk programs must be designed and administered which meet the unique and individualized needs of persons with MR. This includes developing safe, progressive, highly structured, and motivational programs.

More specifically:

* The first and foremost consideration of any exercise program must be safety. Programs should carefully adhere to exercise procedures outlined by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM); i.e., participants engaging in proper warm-up and cool down exercises before and after the actual run/walk program. Exercises should be avoided that are contraindicated; i. …

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