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Exercise, Activity, and Diet for People With Down Syndrome

Living with Down Syndrome comes with many challenges and it’s important to provide those living with the condition the appropriate care to provide them with a great quality of life. One of the most important aspects of proving the right care for people with Down Syndrome is ensuring they are engaged in the right exercise programs, regular activity, and following an appropriate diet to help them lead a comfortable life.

Research indicates that exercise and diet have many benefits for the Down’s syndrome population, and that’s why you should make these two a central part of their life.

In this post, we’ll discuss down syndrome, how exercise and diet can help people living with the condition, and what to include in your diet and exercise program to provide a great quality of life for your loved ones.

What’s Down syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder rather than an illness, meaning it cannot be cured. The genetic condition begins at conception and is experienced throughout an individual’s life, causing severe developmental and physical conditions that affect the person’s intellectual capabilities and state of health.

Down syndrome is among the most prevalent genetic disorders that affect 1 in 1000 babies in Australia every year. Due to its prevalence, medical professionals have established methods of coping with the condition and improve the quality of life of those affected. 

Associated Conditions

People with Down syndrome are affected physically and intellectually. As such, they’re more vulnerable and at a higher risk of contracting some health conditions, including;

  •       Coeliac disease
  •       Heart-related diseases
  •       Weaker immunity
  •       Loose joints
  •       Obesity

Why is Diet and Exercise Important?

Obesity, heart diseases, and coeliac disease are common conditions affecting people with Down Syndrome. According to Down Syndrome Australia, people with Down Syndrome experience increased physical and mental problems, poor management of risk factors, and avoidable deaths.

Most of these situations and health problems can be treated or are at least preventable with lifestyle changes. Following a healthy diet with regular exercise are the most important lifestyle changes to help address these associated conditions.

However, since people with Down syndrome are affected physically and intellectually, it becomes even more challenging for them to engage in physical activities. As a result, the number of obesity is heavily associated with people living with Down Syndrome.

The adverse effect of being obese and overweight is that it could result in other health challenges. For instance, secondary conditions such as heart-related illnesses, diabetes, and joint pains are associated with obesity and overweight.

This makes diet and exercises highly important in people with Down syndrome.

Physical exercise is not only significant in controlling an individual’s weight, but it also aids in strengthening muscles, essential for their physical progress.  On the other hand, having a balanced diet is associated with weight management and boosting immunity.

Diet

A healthy diet rich in nutrients goes a long way in enhancing general health improvement for people with Down Syndrome. It also helps with weight regulation to avoid other health complications associated with Down Syndrome, such as hypertension and heart diseases.

People with Down syndrome are required to consume meals rich in fibre. Fibre helps in reducing the risk of constipation. They should also consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to provide them with vitamins and minerals essential for their health.

Avoiding gluten is also advisable as it is associated with the development of celiac disease, a common condition in people with Down Syndrome.

Activities and Exercises

Physical activities and exercise are crucial for the well-being of a person with Down Syndrome. People with the condition have a lower aerobic capacity, muscle strength, and peak heart rates compared to others. According to research, regular exercise can help people with down syndrome improve their aerobic capacity and muscle strength.

If your loved one has not been engaging in physical activity, it’s important to encourage them to start. A good exercise program should incorporate;

Strength training

They can use weights, their body weight, or gym equipment for strength training which will improve their physical capabilities. You should ensure that this process is gradual to avoid causing any potential injuries. Ideally, doing strength training twice or three times per week should suffice.

Aerobic training

Cardiovascular exercise is also essential as it aids in mobility. Your loved ones can engage in fun aerobics training like walking, swimming, cycling, or jogging. Cardiovascular exercise has positive effects on weight loss which reduces your risks of suffering from heart disease or diabetes.

OSAN Can Help You

It can be challenging to provide your loved ones with proper exercise, activity, and diet to lead to a great quality of life; OSAN Ability Assist has a broad range of disability housing, In-Home care, and Allied health options to cater to people with Down syndrome. Our Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational therapists, and NDIS qualified carers work tirelessly to provide people with Down syndrome with the appropriate health plans to provide them with their best possible quality of life. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.

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