Walking performance in adolescents and young adults with Down syndrome: the role of obesity and sleep problems

C. C.J.J. Chen, Shannon Ringenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: High prevalence of obesity and features of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are major health issues in individuals with Down syndrome (DS), and both may also affect adversely on their daily activities. Further, lower levels of physical work capacity (PWC) have been reported in this population compared to their peers with intellectual disabilities. However, no study examines the relationships between obesity and sleep problems with PWC in individuals with DS. Thus, this study investigated the influence of body mass index (BMI) and different types of sleep problems on PWC in adolescents and young adults with DS (14–31 years). Methods: The incremental treadmill walking trial was used to assess PWC. Results: The negative associations were indicated between BMI and walking steps (p =.03) as well as features with OSA and walking steps (p =.04). Thus, BMI and OSA were included in the regression analysis to estimate the walking steps achieved during walking trials. In addition, Bland-Altman plots demonstrated no overestimation and underestimation of variability in the difference between actual and estimated walking steps developed by using BMI and OSA. Conclusions: Obesity and sleep problem are potentially detrimental to walking performance (i.e., fewer walking steps) in individuals with DS. Thus, individuals with DS may adopt a slow walk speed due to the increased balance deficits and physical fatigue that result from obesity and sleep fragmentation, respectively. Exercise interventions, which have the potential to reduce obesity and OSA, are recommended to improve the accomplishment of PWC in individuals with DS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-348
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • intellectual disabilities
  • obesity
  • physical work capacity
  • sleep disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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