FITT Recommendations for Individuals with Intellectual Disability/Down Syndrome

FITT is an abbreviation for American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM's) Recommendation for Exercise.

Aerobic Exercise 

Frequency: 3-7 days per week is encouraged to maximize the individual's caloric expenditure. 3-4 days should include moderate to vigorous exercise, while light exercise is encouraged on the other remaining days.

Intensity: There are HR recommendations for training those with this special condition, but choosing a pace that is comfortable for them is important. To monitor, they should be at about 40-80% of Max Predicted HR (220-age). Measuring how they are doing during exercise should be asking questions as to how they are doing that allow you to keep pushing them through exercise. Also through close supervision, know when to stop or decrease intensity to avoid any health related issues.

Time: 30-60 minutes a day of physical activity promotes weight management and improved fitness. This can be achieved in multiple bouts of 10-15 minutes, allowing the individual to rest when needed, but still reach the recommended amount.

Type: Walking should be the primary encouraged activity, especially when first starting a regular physical activity program. Gradually work toward running to ensure the individual is ready for the intensity.

Anaerobic Exercise

Frequency: Performed 2-3 times a week, as muscle strengthening is essential in patients with ID.

Intensity: Have individual try to complete 12 repetitions of each exercise for 1-2 weeks to monitor progress.

Time: Complete 2-3 sets with 1-2 minute rests between each set. Work toward multiple sets. One set is completely fine for beginners.

Type: Using machines can target the major muscle groups and is the safest for these individuals. Close supervision of this program and during performance is essential in making adjustments and avoiding injury.


This information was taken from the American College of Sports Medicine under Recommendations for Special Populations.