The Longevity Exercise Physiology team in EdgecliffMarrickville, Randwick, Lindfield and Drummoyne frequently work with Intellectually Disabled Individuals through the NDIS as well as privately. Due to the circumstances of the current COVID-19 environment, we can now offer home visits, outdoor sessions, clinic-based exercise and sessions online via video conference (telehealth).

Intellectual disabilities (ID) are characterised by limitations in cognitive functioning and skills, including communication, social and self-care skills. Some of the most common ID include Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Fragile X.

Can Exercise Physiologists assist people with intellectual disabilities? YES! Today the team at Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology talks you through why it is so important that people of any age with an intellectual disability engage in regular structured exercise.


Why do people with Intellectual Disability have an increased risk of developing secondary health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, depression and obesity?

Common reasons include:

  • Reduced physical activity due to reduced inclusion in team sports, poor motor coordination, reduced ability to self-motivate or reduced understanding of the importance for exercise.

  • Increased sedentary behaviours (particularly screen-time) due to behaviour management and restrictive patterns of behaviour.

  • Negative side effects of commonly prescribed psychotropic medications to manage behaviours and underlying mental illnesses.

Meeting the Physical Activity guidelines can reduce the incidence of secondary health conditions, improve intellectual functioning, behaviour, and improve mental health in those with ID.

How can an Exercise Physiologist help?

  • Tailor exercises to characteristics specific to certain disabilities such as hyper-mobile joints, fine motor skills, breathing difficulties, poor balance, or attention problems.

  • Improve their social skills by engaging in conversation with someone outside of their family home and teaching them about what exercises they are doing and why they are doing them, rather than simply instructing them to do exercises.

  • Create routine and structure for people with ID who respond best to a consistent routine. For example, training at the same time each week and having a similar pattern to each session.

  • Allow plenty of time and patience to allow for adaptations and learning.

  • Ability to teach fundamental movement skills, for example, running, squatting, catching, kicking, leaping, throwing, kicking, jumping and picking items up off the ground dramatically reducing their injury.


The Exercise Physiologists at Longevity are currently helping many individuals with intellectual disabilities achieve amazing results. If you think you or someone you know would benefit from seeing an Exercise Physiologist, especially while there is more time to engage in these activities, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 1300 964 002.

-Written by Courtney Maher


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