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Physical activity in disabled children and disabled young people: evidence review

Earlier this year, we sent you some Government guild-lines regarding the benefits of physical activity for young disabled people. Subsequently, the Government have now released their findings following their scientific analysis on this topic, please find the summary below…

This report considers the numerous definitions of disability to include ‘disabled people’, ‘people living with disabilities’ and ‘people with an impairment’.

The Department of Health and Social Care commissioned the physical activity guidelines for disabled children and disabled young people. This work was led by teams based at Durham University and the University of Bristol. The methodology for developing the infographic took place in 2 phases.

Phase 1: rapid review of evidence – The academic team conducted a rapid review of the available scientific evidence on the health benefits of physical activity for disabled children and disabled young people.

Phase 2: co-production process – They worked with a diverse group of disabled children, disabled young people, parents and carers to consider different methods for communicating the physical activity guidelines.

This report also considered whether there was any evidence to suggest that physical activity is unsafe for this group, however no evidence was found that suggests physical activity presents an adverse risk.

In total, 33 of 176 included studies reported on safety and adverse effects from physical activity interventions. Of these, 13 studies recorded no adverse events. No data was found relating to sensory impairments.

Conclusion & findings:

It is vital disabled children and disabled young people do challenging but manageable strength and balance-focused activities on average 3 times per week. It is also important for disabled children and disabled young people to engage in 120 to 180 minutes of mostly aerobic physical activity each week, at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity.

The quality of physical activity participation is imperative to begin and maintain an active lifestyle. Examples of this include increasing load in resistance exercises, increasing the speed of or total walking distance. It is also important that physical activity participation is progressive, fostering a disabled child or disabled young person’s opportunities for personal development. The study showed that engaging in physical activity and group sports also helps to promote social interaction and improve social skills.

This guidance is crucial for disabled children and disabled young people who are at an increased risk of being typically inactive. This recommendation is based on the evidence reviewed, which suggests there may be, for example, some health benefits of engaging in physical activity for even just 45 to 60 minutes per week

Based on the available evidence, and aligned with the 2019 UK CMOs’ physical activity guidelines, it is recommended that for disabled children and disabled young people, some physical activity compared to none is good, but more is better.

If you would like to discuss the above, or about how we can collaborate, please let us know. To get in touch, email recruitment@ajrecruitment.com or call us on 03305 552233.

As a specialist, family-run recruitment business, we provide a proactive and consultative approach to recruitment within Social Care. We help organisations to target issues such as continuity of staffing, reducing spend where you have a high volume of agency usage and supporting those who have specific talent requirements or are in hard to fill locations. We can help with any immediate staffing requirements or longer-term recruitment projects to ultimately save you time and money on agency spend.

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