SYSTEMATIC REVIEWS: CLINICAL BOTTOM LINE
“How should I apply this information?”
Children with Down syndrome (DS) are not meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines. Physical activity (PA) is necessary for overall health and well-being to prevent consequences of sedentary behavior such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, all of which represent comorbidities typical in population of people with DS. Although PA reference levels for children with DS do not exist, efforts should be made to promote PA and reduce barriers to exercise in this population. Clinicians should promote and increase PA in their interventions, which could in turn increase fitness levels, improve motor development, and decrease health risks. It has been suggested that more physically active children tend to have higher self-esteem and less socioemotional problems.
“What should I be mindful about when applying this information?”
The comparison of PA levels of children with DS is made with PA levels of children developing typically. This may not reflect the true amount and intensity of PA for children with DS, since they may have cardiovascular and musculoskeletal impairments that may compromise the results of accelerometer measurements. Therefore, it is necessary to establish specific levels and intensity of PA appropriate for children with DS before designing PA guidelines for this population; this knowledge should then be incorporated in therapeutic interventions and in daily life. We should also be cautious to generalize the review's results to all children with DS because the review included limited evidence, suggesting, at the same time, that more research is necessary. Nevertheless, clinicians should be able to assess not only PA levels but also fitness levels of children with DS prior to recommendations related to increasing PA levels. Prescribing specific activities with the aim of improving their health and well-being and reducing the risk of disease associated to sedentary lifestyle should be the ultimate goal when working with this population.
Rosa M. Angulo-Barroso, PhD
California State University
Marta Valentín-Gudiol, PT, PhD
Blanquerna School of Health Sciences, Ramon Llull University