Peer-guided exercise program encourages exercise participation of youth with ID

By Heidi I. Stanish and Viviene A. Temple
University of Massachusetts Boston
University of Victoria

Youth with intellectual disabilities (ID) are often obese and are not very physically active. Offering exercise programs in inclusive, community settings and involving peers to promote socialization and enjoyment may increase motivation of youth with ID to engage in exercise.

Team Up for Fitness (TUFF) Program
We lead a 15-week exercise training program designed to provide adolescents with ID the support, training, and experience to safely participate in a community setting. Twenty adolescents with ID were paired with typically developing peer exercise partners (workout buddy) to engage in personalized aerobic exercise and weight training at YMCAs. The partners provided shared support during 1-hour exercise sessions. The program was called Team Up for Fitness (TUFF).

What did you find out?

Adolescents with ID and their workout buddies participated successfully in TUFF. Participants showed improvements in curl ups (upper body strength), 6-minute walk (endurance), and body mass index (measure of body fatness).

What are the take-home messages?
The peer-guided model used in Team Up for Fitness Program combines social and instructional support for adolescents with ID and may encourage exercise participation in community settings. Youth with and without ID can be effective exercise partners for one another in community settings. TUFF Program may have the potential to promote at least semi-independent exercise participation by adolescents with ID especially as they transition from school to community.

To learn more about TUFF Program contact
Heidi Stanish.

Full Journal Article
Stanish, H. I. and Temple, V. A. (2012). Efficacy of Peer-Guided Exercise Programme for Adolescents with Intellectual Disability. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 25(4), 319-328.