Parents' perceptions of health and physical activity needs of children with Down syndrome.

Academic Article


  • Individuals with Down syndrome typically have low fitness levels and obesity despite data that indicate physiological gains from physical activity and exercise interventions. Low fitness levels and obesity in individuals with Down syndrome may be related to sedentary lifestyles, social and recreational opportunities, or low motivation to be physically active. These causal influences on the overall health of individuals with Down syndrome may be related to parental or caregiver support. Through this study, parents of children with Down syndrome from preschool to adolescent ages were interviewed about their perceptions of the health and physical activity needs of their children. Data from four focus groups indicated the following most salient themes: (1) all parents believed participation in physical activity has immediate and long-term positive health impacts on their child with Down syndrome, and most of the parents thought their child would benefit from being more physically active, (2) most parents observed that their child participated in physical activities primarily for social reasons, most notably to be with their peers with or without Down syndrome or to be with their sibling(s), and that without such motivation their child would choose sedentary activities, (3) parents of teenagers identified a need for their child to learn an individual sport to have sporting opportunities that do not require ability-matched teammates and opponents, and (4) parents recognised their need for help from physical activity specialists through either parent education regarding home-based physical activity programmes or an increase in appropriate community-based physical activity programmes for their child with Down syndrome. The interview data suggest future research should evaluate the outcomes of long-term individualised home-based physical activity interventions for children with Down syndrome. Additionally, educators, recreation specialists, and therapists should assist children and youth with their acquisition of skills used in individual and dual sports.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Author List

  • Sayers Menear K
  • Start Page

  • 60
  • End Page

  • 68
  • Volume

  • 12
  • Issue

  • 1