Influence of intellectual disability on exercise regulation: Exploring Verbal, Auditory and Visual Guidance to Contribute to Promote Inclusive Exercise Environments

Kandianos Sakalidis, Stein Gerrit Paul Menting, Florentina Hettinga*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: The role of intellectual disability (ID) in exercise regulation has remained largely unexplored, yet recent studies have indicated cognitive-related impaired pacing skills in people with ID. In a well-controlled laboratory environment, this study aims to (1) establish the role of ID in pacing and explore the ability of people with and without ID to maintain a steady pace; (2) to investigate if verbal feedback and/or (3) the presence of a pacer can improve the ability of people with ID to maintain a preplanned submaximal velocity.

METHODS: Participants with (n=10) and without ID (n=10) were recruited and performed 7 min submaximal trials on a cycle ergometer (Velotron). Participants with ID also performed a cycling trial with a pacer (virtual avatar).

RESULTS: The non-parametric tests for repeated measures data (p≤0.05) showed that (1) people with ID deviated more from the targeted pace compared with people without ID, (2) the verbal feedback did not influence their ability to keep a steady pace and (3) they deviated less from the targeted pace when a visual pacer was introduced.

CONCLUSION: The results revealed the difficulties of people with ID in planning and monitoring their exercise and the difficulties in appropriately responding to auditory and verbal feedback. Coaches and stakeholders who want to offer inclusive exercise pathways should consider that people with ID perform and pace themselves better when supported by intuitive, visual and personally meaningful stimuli such as other cyclists (avatars).

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001765
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date4 Jan 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Cite this