Print Print

Can Exercise Improve IQ In People With Down Syndrome?


Text Size  A  A

The key to improving cognition in those with Down syndrome could be as simple as stepping onto a bike, researchers say.

Using a method called “assisted cycle therapy,” researchers at Arizona State University say they’re seeing improvement in those with Down syndrome. The approach involves rigorous exercise sessions on a specialized stationary bicycle, with a coach encouraging and monitoring the individual with Down syndrome throughout.

A small, pilot study two years ago found that adolescents with the chromosomal disorder were able to process information more quickly and had better manual dexterity even after just one therapy session. In contrast, voluntary exercise did not produce similar results, said Shannon Ringenbach, an associate professor of kinesiology at Arizona State who’s leading the research effort.

Now Ringenbach has a $150,000 federal grant to study the impact of assisted cycle therapy on people with Down syndrome more in-depth.

In an ongoing study, participants attend 30-minute workout sessions three times each week. Families members have indicated that they’ve noticed an increase in talking, interaction and improved mood among those currently participating in the research effort.

“It’s really remarkable that by doing this kind of exercise, they begin to think faster,” Ringenbach said of the study participants who she believes are developing new brain cells. “It has the potential to dramatically change the quality of their lives. With early intervention in children with Down syndrome, it’s possible it could improve their IQ.”

More in Down Syndrome »

Search Jobs

Post a Comment

Disability Scoop welcomes comments, though only a selection are published. In determining which comments will appear beneath a story, we look for submissions that are thoughtful and add new ideas or perspective to the issues addressed within the story. Please keep your remarks brief and refrain from inserting links.

Comments (7 Responses)

  1. Tacitus says:

    How many people are we talking about? Numbers matter.

  2. rosemarie Leaming says:

    Or could perhaps be the increase in opportunity for socialization….3 days a week for several hours. Stimulating environments and opportunity can do wonders for ones sense of self– and in turn, increased stamina, confidence and communication.

  3. David E. Nilsson Ph.D ABPP/CN says:

    Actually, there is a body of research across multiple populations that exercise enhances cognitive function and function generally, not surprising given the increased blood flood, and the other vascular and neurobehavioral changes in the body! A Federal Grant to confirm the obvious. Talk them for walks, other exercise, optimal for their care but selfdom provided. I agree with the comment below, providing more support services in physical and neurodevelopmental stimulation/support! Spend the money on more bikes for Down’s kids! DN

  4. Peggy Schuda says:

    “In contrast, voluntary exercise did not produce similar results, said Shannon Ringenbach, an associate professor of kinesiology at Arizona State who’s leading the research effort.” Am I understanding this sentence to mean that a person with Down Syndrome who rides a three wheel bike around an outdoor track would not show any cognitive or mood improvement?

  5. Bob Segalman, PhD says:

    How can I get the complete study on Down Syndrome, IQ, and assisted cycling therapy?

  6. ray says:

    Good study, but is it the exercise or the special attention the person is receiving that is making the difference? We are raising our nephew, 3 years old with down syndrome, and have discovered that normal exercise, walking, carwling, jumping, etc. have improved his cognitive skills greatly. And the attention given to him as we teach him new words. Just a thought. Yes, Peggy, voluntary exercise does cause improvement. And Rosemarie is correct from what I have observed with our nephew.

  7. Amy Yoder says:

    Where do we find one of these bikes & a therapist. We r in Syracuse, NY. He’s 14. Will this still help?

Copyright © 2008-2015 Disability Scoop, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Reprints and Permissions