Physical fitness in older people with ID-Concept and measuring instruments: a review

Res Dev Disabil. Sep-Oct 2010;31(5):1027-38. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2010.04.012. Epub 2010 May 21.


A certain level of physical fitness is a prerequisite for independent functioning and self-care, but the level of physical fitness declines with ageing. This applies to older adult with intellectual disabilities too, but very little is known about their actual level of physical fitness. This lack of knowledge is partly caused by a lack of suitable instruments to measure physical fitness in this group, but the search for and choice of instruments depends on the operationalisation of the concept physical fitness for specific this target population. In this article the advantages of two known definitions of physical fitness are combined, leading to a combination of seven components to describe physical fitness in older adults with intellectual disabilities: coordination, reaction time, balance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and cardio-respiratory endurance. A literature search for all instruments to measure any of these components resulted in a large number of available instruments. These instruments were evaluated according criteria of functionality, reliability and feasibility in this target population. The aim of this article was to propose a selection of instruments which complied with these criteria and creates possibilities for widespread use and sharing and/or pooling of data. The proposed selection of tests to measure physical fitness in older adults with intellectual disabilities is: Box and Block test, Reaction time test with an auditive and visual signal, Berg balance scale, Walking speed comfortable and fast, Grip strength with a hand dynamometer, 30s chair stand, modified back saver sit and reach and the 10 m incremental shuttle walking test.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification
  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / diagnosis*
  • Intellectual Disability / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Physical Endurance
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Pliability
  • Postural Balance
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Self Care