Physical Activity in Adolescent with Mental Retardation: Is Adapted Basketball Training Adequate Stimulus to Improve Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Sport Skills Performance?

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The purpose of the study was to examine the effects of an adapted basketball training program on the cardiorespiratory fitness and sport skills performance of adolescents with mental retardation (MR). Fifty adolescents with mild MR who participated in this study were divided in two groups. Experimental group (n = 25; mean ± SD age: 15.7 ± 0.9 years) performed the adapted training program, four times per week during eight weeks. A control group (n = 25; mean ± SD age: 15.9 ± 0.8 years) followed ordinary physical education classes and continued with their normal lifestyle. Exercise testing included the six-minute walk test (6MWT), monitoring of heart rate frequency and sport skills performance test battery.

Results showed a significant difference between groups pre- and post-treatment in 6MWT distance. The experimental group experienced a 10% increase in covered distance pre- to post-testing (p < 0.05), whereas controls had no significant changes in the same period. Conducted adapted training also resulted in significant improvement in examined sport skills performance. However, this kind and duration of experimental procedure did not result in significant differences in anthropometric variables and heart rate frequency. This study demonstrated that adapted basketball training is an adequate stimulus for improvement in cardiorespiratory fitness and sport skills performance of adolescents with mild MR. The advantage of this type of adaptive training program is that it does not require a large financial input, but only the engagement of a qualified and dedicated physical education professor.

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