Eight physical fitness tests can be used with adults with ID

By Thessa Hilgenkamp, PhD
Erasmus Medical Center, Netherlands

Although physical fitness is important for well-being and health, we do not know if existing physical fitness tests can be used with older adults with intellectual disability (ID).

What did you do in your research?
We wanted to see if 8 physical fitness tests could be used with older adults with ID. Over a thousand volunteers with ID from Dutch care services participated. The tests included:

  1. Box and block test (Manual dexterity)
  2. Response time test (Response time)
  3. Berg balance scale (Balance)
  4. Walking speed (Balance)
  5. Grip strength (Hand/arm muscle strength)
  6. 30-s chair stand (Muscle endurance)
  7. 10-m incremental shuttle walking test (Heart/lung endurance)
  8. Extended modified back saver sit and reach test (Lower body flexibility)

What did you find out?
All tests had moderate to good feasibility in all subgroups, except for the participants with profound ID (all tests), severe ID (response time test and Berg balance scale), and wheelchair users (all tests that involve the legs). We conclude that the 8 tests are feasible to measure physical fitness in majority of older adults with ID.

What are the take-home messages?
We conclude that the 8 tests are feasible to measure physical fitness in majority of older adults with ID.

To learn more about these findings contact
Thessa Hilgenkamp or visit Project Website.

Full Journal Article
Hilgenkamp, T.I.M., van Wijck, R., &Evenhuis, H.M. (2013) Feasibility of eight physical fitness tests in 1,050 older adults with intellectual disability: Results of the Healthy Ageing with Intellectual Disabilities Study. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 51(1), 33-47.