Introduction High levels of anxiety in persons with intellectual disabilities (ID) have been consistently reported in literature (Emerson, 2003; Esbensen et al., 2003). Because of its relation with difficult behaviours (e.g., self-injury and irritability), anxiety can have detrimental effects on exposure of persons with ID to new learning and community integration (Masi et al., 2000). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a program of adapted physical activity (APA) on anxiety in adult people with ID. Method A sample of 27 adults with a mild to moderate ID (mean age 40.1 years, SD ±6.2; men = 16 and women = 11) was randomly assigned to an experimental (n = 14) or a control group (n = 13). None of the participants had a diagnosis for anxiety disorders. People in the experimental group participated in a 3-month program of APA with a frequency of 2 times per week, 1 hour per session. Control group participated in a painting activities program with the same frequency and duration. STAI-Y (State Trait Anxiety Inventory Y form) was used to assess trait and state anxiety. STAI-Y was administered to the participants before to enter the study, after 6 weeks and at the end of the intervention (12 weeks). State anxiety was evaluated immediately before and after the hour of PA or painting activity, instead trait anxiety was evaluated in a day without activities. Results Alpha coefficients of α=.95 for the STAI-S and of α=.76 for the STAI-T were obtained that supports its internal consistency. Anxiety levels at baseline displayed no differences between the two groups. In comparison with the control group, state and trait anxiety levels significantly decreased (p<.001) in the experimental group. Discussion These positive results seem to support the role and importance of physical activity in persons with ID. Greater effort should be made in sustaining regular PA participation among individuals with ID, to promote psychophysical benefits and wellbeing.
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