Physical fitness of blind and sighted children

  • W. G. Hopkins
  • H. Gaeta
  • A. C. Thomas
  • P. N. Hill


Twenty-seven children (age 7–17 years) with varying degrees of blindness but with no other known disorder were assessed for physical fitness. Twenty-seven randomly selected children with normal eyesight were also assessed. Maximum oxygen uptake (\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2 max}}} } \)) was measured directly during a progressive exercise test on a treadmill. There was a significant and substantial reduction in\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2 max}}} } \) in totally blind children (mean ± standard deviation 35.0±7.5 ml · min−1 · kg−1) compared with normal children (45.9±6.6 ml · min−1 · kg−1). Partially sighted children had a significant but smaller reduction in\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2 max}}} } \). Fitness assessed by a step-test was significantly reduced in the visually impaired children, and skin-fold thickness was also significantly greater in totally blind children.

The level of habitual physical activity for each child, as assessed by a questionnaire, correlated with\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2 max}}} } \) (r=0.53,p<0.0001). Blind children were significantly less active than normal children, and the difference between mean\(\dot V_{{\text{O}}_{{\text{2 max}}} } \) for blind and normal children became non-significant when their different activity levels were taken into account. It is concluded that totally blind children are less fit than other children at least partly because of their lower level of habitual activity.

Key words

Fitness Maximum oxygen uptake Activity Blindness 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. G. Hopkins
    • 1
  • H. Gaeta
    • 1
  • A. C. Thomas
    • 1
  • P. N. Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Physiology, School of MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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