Empowering Individuals with Down Syndrome: The NDIS and Exercise Physiology Services

Written by: Sonja Cornes (Accredited Exercise Physiologist)

Physical activity is a fundamental aspect of maintaining overall health and well-being, and it holds even greater significance for individuals with Down Syndrome. People with Down syndrome often face unique challenges when it comes to physical fitness and health.


In this article, we will explore the numerous benefits of exercise for individuals with Down Syndrome and how the NDIS, in collaboration with Exercise Physiology services, can play a crucial role in improving their quality of life.

Understanding Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is a genetic condition caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. It is associated with a range of physical and cognitive disabilities, including intellectual impairment and various health concerns.

While individuals with Down syndrome have their own unique abilities and challenges, one commonality is a predisposition to obesity, muscle weakness, and cardiovascular problems. This is where exercise physiology services become an invaluable component of their healthcare.


The NDIS is an Australian government initiative aimed at providing funding and support to people with disabilities to help them live fulfilling and independent lives.

This program recognizes the importance of tailored support for individuals with Down syndrome, including access to exercise physiology services.

Under the NDIS, participants can receive financial assistance for the services they need to maintain and improve their physical health.

Benefits of Exercise for Persons with Down Syndrome

1. Improved Physical Fitness
Exercise plays a vital role in enhancing physical fitness, which is especially important for individuals with Down syndrome.

Regular physical activity can help improve muscle tone, strength, and coordination. This, in turn, can assist in managing some of the mobility challenges that individuals with Down syndrome may face.

2. Weight Management
Obesity is a common concern among people with Down syndrome. Exercise helps to support a healthy weight, reducing the risk of obesity and related health issues.

3. Cardiovascular Health
Individuals with Down syndrome are more susceptible to heart problems, making cardiovascular health a top priority. Regular exercise can improve heart function, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.

4. Enhanced Mental Wellbeing
Exercise isn’t just beneficial for physical health; it also has a positive impact on overall mental wellbeing.

5. Social Engagement
Participating in exercise programs can provide opportunities for social interaction and inclusion.  Building connections and friendships can contribute to improved mental health and a sense of belonging.

6. Boosted Self-Esteem
Achieving fitness goals and witnessing improvements in physical abilities can boost self-esteem and confidence in individuals with Down syndrome, empowering them to pursue a more active and fulfilling life.

How Exercise Physiology Services Support Individuals with Down Syndrome

1. Personalized Exercise Plans
Exercise physiologists are experts in designing customized fitness programs tailored to the specific needs and abilities of individuals with Down Syndrome. These plans consider the individual’s age, fitness level, and any existing health concerns.

2. Monitoring Progress
Regular assessments and progress tracking are essential components of exercise physiology services. By monitoring improvements in strength, flexibility, and overall fitness, adjustments can be made to the exercise plan to maximize benefits.

3. Motivation and Guidance
Exercise physiologists provide the necessary guidance and motivation to keep individuals with Down Syndrome engaged in their fitness routines. They make exercise enjoyable and ensure that participants stay committed to their goals.

4. Addressing Health Concerns
Exercise physiologists are trained to identify and address specific health concerns related to Down Syndrome, such as joint problems, low muscle tone, and balance issues. They incorporate exercises that target these areas to improve overall well-being.

5. Promoting Independence
One of the ultimate goals of exercise physiology services is to empower individuals with Down syndrome to lead independent lives. By enhancing physical fitness and functional abilities, these services promote greater self-reliance.


Exercise is a powerful tool for enhancing the lives of individuals with Down syndrome. It offers numerous physical, mental, and social benefits that contribute to a higher quality of life. The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) plays a pivotal role in ensuring that individuals with Down syndrome have access to the exercise physiology services they need to thrive.

By providing personalized exercise plans, monitoring progress, and addressing specific health concerns, exercise physiologists support individuals with Down syndrome to overcome their unique challenges and achieve their fitness goals to lead healthier, more independent lives filled with opportunities for growth, inclusion, and well-being.