Physical activity for general health benefits in disabled children and disabled young people: rapid evidence review

Smith, B., Rigby, B. , Netherway, J., Wang, W., Dodd-Reynolds, C., Oliver, E., Bone, L. and Foster, C. (2022) Physical activity for general health benefits in disabled children and disabled young people: rapid evidence review. Technical Report. Department of Health and Social Care.

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Publisher's URL: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/physical-activity-in-disabled-children-and-disabled-young-people-evidence-review/physical-activity-for-general-health-benefits-in-disabled-children-and-disabled-young-people-rapid-evidence-review

Abstract

Disabled children and disabled young people are at increased risk of being typically inactive, particularly as they become older. These issues have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This public health-focused report provides a review of the scientific evidence of the health benefits from physical activity, specifically for disabled children and disabled young people in non-clinical settings (aged 2 to 17 years). The research responds to a gap identified in the review of evidence for the 2019 UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMOs’) physical activity guidelines. This important adjunct report enhances the comprehensiveness of the UK’s physical activity guidelines provision. It also provides future research recommendations. Furthermore, the report will also inform the first evidence-based infographic co-produced with disabled children and disabled young people, their parents and carers, health and social care professionals, and key disability and sport organisations to communicate meaningful messages about these physical activity recommendations, especially in relation to the frequency and duration of activity. There is evidence that shows a likely relationship between engaging in physical activity and positive health outcomes for disabled children and disabled young people. This report also provides suggestions about the amount (that is, frequency, duration and intensity) of physical activity that is likely to be important for disabled children and disabled young people to undertake to benefit their health. Some physical activity is better than nothing, as small amounts can bring health benefits. For likely substantial health gains, it is important for disabled children and disabled young people to do 120 to 180 minutes of mostly aerobic physical activity per week, at a moderate-to-vigorous intensity. The evidence suggests that this may be achieved in different ways (for example, 20 minutes per day or 40 minutes 3 times per week). It is also important for disabled children and disabled young people to do challenging strength and balance-focused activities on average 3 times per week. No evidence was found to show that physical activity is unsafe for disabled children and disabled young people when it is performed at an appropriate level for their current levels of physical development, fitness, physical and mental functioning (accounting for disability classification and severity), health and physical activity. This report provides evidence that aligns in part with the 2019 UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines for non-disabled children and disabled young people, as well as the 2020 guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO) for disabled children and disabled young people. However, there are also important differences in terms of recommended frequency and time. These are made based on the available evidence to provide recommendations specific to disabled children and disabled young people. The report also aids the communication and implementation of the guidelines by providing an evidence-base for disability groups, health and social care professionals, and sport and physical activity organisations to encourage physical activity to disabled children and disabled young people. The guidelines are the first to have included a review of evidence solely focused on disabled children and disabled young people’s physical activity, and thus represent the most comprehensive guidance globally.

Item Type:Research Reports or Papers (Technical Report)
Additional Information:This project was funded by the UK Department of Health and Social Care. Additional financial support for project delivery was provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account (Durham University).
Keywords:Physical activity, children, disability, health.
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Rigby, Mr Benjamin
Authors: Smith, B., Rigby, B., Netherway, J., Wang, W., Dodd-Reynolds, C., Oliver, E., Bone, L., and Foster, C.
Subjects:R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Publisher:Department of Health and Social Care
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Crown Copyright
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under an Open Government License
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