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Physical activity levels in people with intellectual disability attending daily centers

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Often people with intellectual disability (ID) do not practice enough physical activity (PA) in order to achieve health benefits. It has been suggested that the caregiver has a significant role in promoting the participation of PA.


(i) To describe, in terms of physical activity (PA), the activities proposed to Italian ID people attending daily care centers; (ii) to determine if an operator expert in PA can affect number of steps, time spent doing moderate-intensity PA, and daily energy expenditure of the sample.


Forty-eight subjects wear Armband (Sensewear) during the time that they spent to the center (from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), on weekdays. The sample was divided into two groups: one with an operator expert in PA and one group without operator expert in PA.


The data analysis showed that the PA levels of people with ID are far from the 10,000 steps day−1 recommended (3698 ± 2514 steps day−1). However, the presence of an operator expert in PA increases the number of steps and the energy expenditure (METs). Considering the time spent doing moderate-intensity PA, the sample is close to the ACSM’s recommendations of 30 min, but seldom the activity is continued for 10 consecutive minutes.


PA of ID people in both the groups (with and without the expert in PA) should be increased and better organized. An operator expert in PA can influence positively the amount and intensity of PA performed toward the center.

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The authors thank Fondazione Just Italia and ANFFAS Verona for supporting this study, and the institutions that kindly gave their availability for the assessments.

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Correspondence to Valeria Marconi.

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This paper has not been published or submitted for publication to any other scientific journal, and the final manuscript has been seen and approved by all authors. The authors do not have any affiliation with any associations, or financial organization, or financial interests in relation to this article therefore the submission of the paper does not give rise to a conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. A guardian for each participant signed a written informed consent form to authorize the attendance to the research.

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Marconi, V., Pizzolato, F., Donati, D. et al. Physical activity levels in people with intellectual disability attending daily centers. Sport Sci Health 14, 257–264 (2018).

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  • Physical activity
  • Intellectual disability
  • Steps
  • METs
  • Energy expenditure