Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Exercise and Health Science

First Advisor

Richard K. Fleming

Second Advisor

Philimon N. Gona

Third Advisor

Heidi Stanish


Children with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD) engage in lower levels of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity (MVPA), compared to typically developing children. In addition, research suggests that LPA might have health benefits independent of those recognized for MVPA in general people. To our knowledge, there is currently no recommendation for light intensity physical activity (LPA) and the recommendation for all people with disabilities is to simply encourage them to do “as much physical activity (PA) as they can”. The primary objective of this study is to analyze the baseline PA patterns, of youth with Down syndrome (DS) who participated in a 12-month weight loss intervention. The secondary objective is to assess whether the intervention would change PA patterns. A total of 21 adolescents and young adults with DS, aged 13 to 26 years, were enrolled and randomized to either a 6-month nutrition and activity education intervention (NAE) or a nutrition and activity education+ behavioral intervention (NAE+BI), with a 6-month follow-up. Actical accelerometers were used to assess the PA levels of participants at baseline, 10-week, 6-month, and 12-month. Results indicated that participants spent a high proportion of their time in SB (68.2%), and lower proportions in LPA (28.5%) and MVPA (3.2%) at baseline. At the same time, a strong negative linear correlation was found between SB and LPA (r= -0.938, p < 0.001); and a weak negative linear correlation was found between SB and MVPA (r= -0.468, p=0.038). At 6 months, SB in the NAE+BI group showed significant within-group difference, compared to baseline (P=0.050). Linear trend analysis showed that the NAE+BI group slope decreased more SB at 6-month; but the trajectory of LPA increased more steeply at 10-week, 6-month, and 12-month, than in NAE. In conclusion, LPA was found to have a stronger inverse association to SB than MVPA to SB in these participants. We conclude that decreasing SB and promoting healthy outcomes may be achieved more effectively by increasing LPA, compared to increasing MVPA, among this population. The implications could be used to fill in the gap of PA guidelines to include promoting LPA among adolescents and young adults with IDD. This step could bring health benefits.


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