Aerobic exercise programmes in adults with Down syndrome

Evidence Summaries

Level of Evidence = C
Aerobic exercise training programmes may improve work performance outcomes in adults with Down syndrome, but cardiorespiratory measures seem not to improve.

A Cochrane review 1 included 3 studies with a total of 56 subjects with Down syndrome (aged from 17 to 65 years). The studies included different kinds of aerobic activity: walking/jogging and rowing training. In the meta-analyses, only maximal treadmill grade, a work performance variable, was improved after aerobic exercise training programmes (WMD 4.26 grades (%), 95% CI 2.06 to 6.45). Other variables relative to work performance that could not be combined in a meta-analysis were also improved in the intervention group: maximal test time (P=0.0003), total turns of fan wheel (P=0.02), resistance of ergometer (p=0.003), power knee extension and flexion (p<0.00001), and timed up and go test (p=0.008). No statistically significant differences between intervention and control groups were found in the meta-analyses of VO2 peak (WMD 0.30, 95% CI 3.17 to 3.77 mL·Kg-1min-1), peak heart rate (WMD 2.84, 95% CI 5.05 to 10.73 beats per minute), respiratory exchange ratio (RER) (WMD -0.01, 95% CI -0.06 to 0.04 VCO2/VO2), and pulmonary ventilation (WMD 5.86, 95% CI -4.34 to 16.06 L/min). Thirty other outcomes including, oxidative stress and body composition, could not be combined in the meta-analysis. Apart from work performance, trials reported no statistically significant improvements.

Comment: The quality of evidence is downgraded by study quality (unclear allocation concealment and lack of blinding), and by imprecise results (few patients and wide confidence intervals).


1. Andriolo RB, El Dib RP, Ramos L, Atallah AN, da Silva EM. Aerobic exercise training programmes for improving physical and psychosocial health in adults with Down syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2010;(5):CD005176.  [PMID:20464738]

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