Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
The physical activity levels of adults with intellectual disabilities reported in previous research studies were below the recommended level to keep healthy. Not much is known about how best to support adults with intellectual disabilities to be more active. Walking is a sustainable form of physical activity that can be incorporated into everyday life. Interventions that support people to walk more have been shown to lead to improved health and wellbeing. This study will examine whether a walking intervention helps adults with intellectual disabilities increase how much walking they do and improves their health.
Who can participate?
Adults with intellectual disabilities between 18 and 65 years of age, living in the catchment area of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde can take part in this study. Potential participants should be able to walk for 10 minutes.
What does the study involve?
Before the walking program (intervention) starts, participants will be invited to meet with a researcher. The researcher will ask participants questions about current levels of physical activity and health. We would also like to ask carers some questions. We would also like to measure physical activity by asking participants to wear a belt round the waist. The belt has a small box attached called an accelerometer that measures physical activity and how many steps the wearer takes. Participants will also be invited to have their height, weight and waist circumference measured. These measurements will be repeated after the individual takes part in the walking intervention. The walking intervention lasts 12 weeks. Participants will meet with a walking coordinator three times. The walking coordinator will talk to participants and carers about physical activity and walking. With the help of the walking coordinator, participants will choose an individualised walking program to follow. The aim of the walking program is to help participants increase the time they spend walking gradually over the 12 week intervention period. At the end of the walking intervention we will ask participants and carers to tell us what they think about the intervention.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Participants may experience health benefits by taking part in the intervention. They may also become more confident about taking part in physical activity. We do not anticipate any significant risks for participants.
Where is the study run from?
University of Glasgow (UK)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
May 2012 to April 2014
Who is funding the study?
This study is funded by the Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Government Health Directorates
Who is the main contact?
Dr Craig Melville
Gartnavel Royal Hospital
1055 Great Western Road
+44 (0)141 211 3878
The impact of a walking intervention on the physical activity levels and health of adults with intellectual disabilities: a randomised controlled trial
1. Does a 12-week walking intervention for adults with intellectual disabilities increase the average number of steps walked per day?
2. Does a walking intervention for adults with intellectual disabilities increase the average time spent per day in moderate-vigorous intensity?
3. Does a walking intervention for adults with intellectual disabilities reduce time spent on sedentary behaviour?
4. Are changes in walking behaviours, physical activity and sedentary behaviour maintained at follow-up, three months after the end of the walking intervention?
5. Does a walking intervention for adults with intellectual disabilities lead to improved wellbeing and self efficacy for physical activity?
6. How do individuals with learning disabilities who have participated in a walking intervention view the experience?
Scotland A Research Ethics Committee, 13/02/2012, ref: 12/SS/0003
Single-centre single-blind randomised controlled study
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised controlled trial
Quality of life
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet
1. Multi-component walking intervention - accessible resources on the benefits of physical activity; physical activity consultation & individualised, structured walking program.
2. Waiting list control
Primary outcome measures
Average number of steps walked per day
Secondary outcome measures
1. Average number of minutes spent in moderate - vigorous physical activity per day
2. Average number of minutes spent in physical activity of any intensity per day
3. Average time spent on sedentary behaviour per day
4. Quality of life, self efficacy and vitality
5. Weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Participant inclusion criteria
1. 18-65 years old
2. Ambulatory and able to walk unaided for 10 minutes at a time, based on self/carer report
3. Any level of intellectual disabilities
4. Not currently taking part in any other research study
Target number of participants
Participant exclusion criteria
1. Wheelchair user or significant mobility problems
2. Severe challenging behaviour, or other needs requiring constant one-to-one support from staff
3. Involved in regular physical activity - meeting current public health recommendations for physical activity, for six months or more
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
Gartnavel Royal Hospital
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (UK)
NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Research & Development office
38 Church Street
Chief Scientist Office (CSO) (UK) (ref:CZH/4/644)
Funding Body Type
Funding Body Subtype
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Not provided at time of registration
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not provided at time of registration
Results - basic reporting
Mitchell F, Melville C, Stalker K, Matthews L, McConnachie A, Murray H, Walker A, Mutrie N, Walk well: a randomised controlled trial of a walking intervention for adults with intellectual disabilities: study protocol., BMC Public Health, 2013, 13, 1, 620, doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-620.
Melville CA, Mitchell F, Stalker K, Matthews L, McConnachie A, Murray HM, Melling C, Mutrie N, Effectiveness of a walking programme to support adults with intellectual disabilities to increase physical activity: walk well cluster-randomised controlled trial, Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act, 2015 , 12, 125, doi: 10.1186/s12966-015-0290-5.
L Matthews, F Mitchell, K Stalker, A McConnachie, H Murray, C Melling, N Mutrie, C Melville, Process evaluation of the Walk Well study: a cluster-randomised controlled trial of a community based walking programme for adults with intellectual disabilities, BMC Public Health, 2016, 16, 1, 527, doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3179-6.