Physical activity and learning disability

Hallawell, Bob; Stephens, Jacqueline and Charnock, David (2012). Physical activity and learning disability. British Journal of Nursing, 21(10) pp. 609–612.



The inclusion of people with learning disabilities in sporting activities promotes a number of positive outcomes. These may include opportunities for social inclusion, the creation of positive role models for other people with learning disabilities, the opportunity to present people with learning disabilities in valued social roles to a global community, sharing of common interests and experiences, and social and competitive rewards. There is also the potential for positive physical and mental health outcomes. Current data suggests that people with learning disabilities are physically less active than the rest of the population, more likely to lead sedentary lifestyles and more prone to obesity and associated health conditions. However, there are a number of ways in which nurses may support both individuals and their carers to engage with and promote programmes of physical activity. These may include the design of individual activity plans incorporated within health action planning aligned with suitable rewards systems. Action might also be taken in terms of health promotion advice and information to carers and those providing facilities for physical activity.

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