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Arch Hellen Med, 27(5), September-October 2010, 753-756


Pathophysiology in people with intellectual disability:
The importance of regular exercise in their health

Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece

Many studies have confirmed the negative impact of inactivity on physical fitness, lifestyle related risk factors for poor health functional capacity and quality of life in the general population. There is evidence, also, of special clinical characteristics and pathophysiological mechanisms in persons with intellectual disability (ID). Complex health problems with a high incidence of functional limitation appear to be more common among people with ID, in whom multiple risk factors (obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, inactivity, etc.) may combine to exert a negative impact on various health parameters and on their perception of well-being. Consequently, patients with ID have an elevated prevalence of different types of chronic illness, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and type II diabetes mellitus. The above situation appears to be even more complex when ID is associated with severe genetic syndromes such as Down syndrome. Research studies have demonstrated the enormous health benefits that can be achieved in patients with ID from their participation in regular exercise. Despite the variety of the protocols, evidence from such studies supports the hypothesis that regular exercise not only reduces the concentration of several markers of systemic inflammation, but also increases the levels of antiinflammatory cytokines and antioxidative enzymes in subjects with ID. This is a review of data from the years 2004−2009, which was made in order to describe the particular pathophysiological characteristics of individuals with ID, with or without Down syndrome, and to determine the impact of a variety of protocols of regular physical activity on fitness parameters (aerobic capacity, muscular strength and balance), inflammatory biomarkers (CRP, cytokines), plasma lipid profile (HDL-C, LDL-C, atheroma index), health parameters (obesity, hypertension) and general well-being in people with ID.

Key words: Cytokines, Down syndrome, Exercise, Intellectual disability, Physical fitness.

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