Short term exercise programme reduces anxiety states in people with learning disabilities


A state of high anxiety can have an impact on daily living. For people with learning disabilities, anxiety can be common and persistent anxiety can significantly affect people’s quality of life.

There is a literature on effects of exercise on reducing anxiety, but the researchers in this study point out that there has been little published on the role of exercise on anxiety in people with learning disabilities.

They set out to look at what the effects would be of a 12-week exercise programme on anxiety states in 27 people with mild to moderate learning disabilities. Each of the participants was randomly assigned to an exercise group or a control group. They modified the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale for people with learning disabilities, and used this along with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory form Y to assess trait and state anxiety.

They found that the anxiety scores of people in the exercise group decreased significantly over time  in comparison with the control group.

They conclude from this very small study that that a short-term exercise programme is able to reduce anxiety states in people with learning disabilities

Effects of an exercise programme on anxiety in adults with intellectual disabilities, Carraro A & Gobbi E in Research in Developmental Disabilities, 33, 4, 1221–1226

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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