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Your UCP: National August 25, 2003
Sports & Leisure

Exercise & Fitness

Exercise Principles and Guidelines for Persons with Cerebral Palsy and Neuromuscular Disorders


Health and well being are the result of many factors:

  • Physical activity is one of these factors. Participation in activities of daily living is important for maintaining health; examples are household activities, gardening, and leisurely walking or wheeling.
  • Physical Fitness is another factor such as sports, nutrition, and exercise. This is true for persons of all ages.
  • Exercise is particularly important for persons with disabilities due to cerebral palsy and neuromuscular disorders.


Specific Goals:

Exercise Concerns:

Age: Exercise is not reserved for any age group. At all ages, exercise can strengthen bone, enhance mobility, build strength and improve coordination.

Trauma: An appropriate exercise program does not aggravate conditions that accompany cerebral palsy or neuromuscular disorders.

Fatigue: Exercise does utilize energy; however, by exercising regularly, people build stamina that makes it easier to meet daily demands.

Falls: Exercise does not cause falls or injuries; if done properly exercise improves balance, mobility, strength and coordination that protect against injury in activities of daily living.


  • You can do it! Focus the exercise program on your goals.
  • Exercise can be done at home and/or at an exercise facility.
  • You may require specialized equipment or assistance from a person qualified on exercise programs for persons with disabilities due to neuromuscular disorders.
  • Start modestly; each time, begin with a warm-up and stretching period.
  • Gradually increase exercise intensity, duration and frequency.
  • End with a cool-down period.
  • Be alert to danger signals and stop when they occur.
  • An effective exercise program will be beneficial; a poorly planned exercise program can be harmful.
  • Enjoy exercise; however, don't overdo it.

Prepared by:

The United Cerebral Palsy Research and Educational Foundation, with assistance from:

Staff from other organizations and agencies provided technical expertise. A list of contributing persons and organizations is available on request.

Distributed by United Cerebral Palsy Associations, 1660 L Street NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036

©1999 UCP Research and Educational Foundation

Download a PDF version of this document now. This document is provided in Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format. To view it, you must have the free Acrobat Reader, which can be obtained here.

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