Research Trends and Recommendations for Physical Activity Interventions Among Children and Youth With Disabilities: A Review of Reviews

Adapt Phys Activ Q. 2020 Apr 1;37(2):211-234. doi: 10.1123/apaq.2019-0081. Epub 2020 Mar 3.


This scoping review synthesized reviews of physical activity (PA) interventions for children and youth with disabilities to highlight promising elements of effective interventions, research methodological limitations, and research priorities. Twenty studies were eligible and underwent three rounds of review by an expert panel. Rich and diverse PA programs derived potential short-term benefits toward health, function, and PA. Strategies to increase sample sizes included embedding programs in the community and using information communication technology to deliver exercise programs. Methodological limitations of interventions included a lack of generalizability, transferability, and scientific rigor. Three research priorities were identified: develop and report precision-based intervention strategies, identify strategies that promote both long-term and sustainable PA participation and outcomes, and develop scalable interventions and recruitment strategies. If addressed, these areas could enhance the impact of PA interventions for children and youth with disabilities.

Keywords: cerebral palsy; developmental disability; exercise; intellectual disability; sensory disability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Research / trends*