Identifying facilitators and barriers to physical activity for adults with Down syndrome Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Adults with Down syndrome are typically sedentary, and many do not participate in the recommended levels of physical activity per week. The aim of this study was to identify the facilitators and barriers to physical activity for this group. METHOD: Semi-structured interviews were conducted to elicit the views of adults with Down syndrome and their support people about what factors facilitate physical activity and what factors are barriers to activity. A sample of 18 participants (3 men, 15 women) was recruited through two agencies providing services for adults with disabilities; six participants were adults with Down syndrome and 12 participants were support people (four were parents of adults with Down syndrome and eight participants were employed by day programmes attended by the adults with Down syndrome). The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and independently coded by two researchers. RESULTS: Three themes around facilitators to physical activity were identified: (1) support from others; (2) that the physical activity was fun or had an interesting purpose; and (3) routine and familiarity. Three themes around barriers were also identified: (1) lack of support; (2) not wanting to engage in physical activity; and (3) medical and physiological factors. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that support people play a key role, both as facilitators and barriers, in the participation by adults with Down syndrome in physical activity. Many of the barriers and facilitators of activity for adults with Down syndrome indentified are similar to those reported for adults without impairment. Our findings are also consistent with established theories in the field of health behaviour change.

publication date

  • September 2010