Maintenance of health-related physical fitness among adults with mental retardation
Carter, Nancy T.
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This study examined the effects of a 12-week health-related physical fitness maintenance program on cardiovascular endurance, abdominal strength, flexibility, and body fat of adults with mental retardation (MR). Specifically, the study compared changes in these components between two groups of adults with MR. One group participated in supervised direct instruction and another group was involved in a modified self- directed training program. A total of 15 subjects, ranging in age from 21 to 43 years, participated. All subjects were classified as mildly or moderately mentally retarded and were employed at a vocational training workshop in Sycamore, Illinois. Eight of the subjects participated in the modified self-directed exercise program. Seven subjects served as a comparison group and received direct instruction and supervision during their exercise program. The subjects met 3 days per week for 30 minutes per session. The maintenance program consisted of a warm-up (stretching, 1 minute of sit-ups, and sit-and-reach flexibility exercise), a 15-minute run/walk, and a cool-down (4 minutes of walking). The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Lifetime Health-Related Physical Fitness Test was used as the pre- and posttest for both groups. An analysis of covariance was used to analyze the data. Results revealed no significant difference between the supervised direct instruction and modified self-directed groups (run/walk F(1, 12) = 2.769, p = .119; sit-ups F(1, 12) = 1.71, p = .213; sit-and-reach F(1, 12) = .960, p <.10; and skinfolds F(1, 12) = .352, p <.10). The results of this investigation provide evidence that adults with MR are capable of maintaining physical fitness levels with minimal supervision. It was concluded that if a physical fitness maintenance program is presented in short, sequential units, adults with MR may be able to maintain a level of physical fitness comparable to that of their peers involved in direct, supervised instruction.