Intellectual disabilities & exercise physiology

Exercise is crucial for developing minds.
Some skills progress before others, and if not, this can affect coordination, control and movement thereafter. The consequences of this are possible posture defects, muscular deficiencies and cardiovascular abnormalities and can then lead to chronic muscular and osteo conditions, along with heart issues.
At Be Physiology we create scientific-based programs that ensure the healthy development of our clients. By hosting a controlled (and tiring) environment, and keeping the little minds engaged, is a proven way to help them gain strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, as well as learn to listen and follow instructions.

What defines a developmental disability or intellectual disability?

A developmental disability refers to a physical, learning, language, or behavioural impairment. The term developmental disabilities encompass intellectual disabilities, however, also include physical disabilities.
An intellectual disability refers to a person having impaired cognitive functioning, social skills, and self-care skills.

There is a range of developmental and intellectual disabilities that affect people in different ways.
  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hearing Loss
  • Rett Syndrome 
  • Intellectual Disability 
  • Learning Disability 
  • Vision Impairment 
  • Williams Syndrome 
  • Down Syndrome 
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome 
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Fetal Alchohol Syndrome 

What can cause an intellectual disability?

Intellectual disabilities do not have a single cause, it is genetic and environmental factors that can lead to different types of intellectual disabilities.

Signs and symptoms

Indications of a developmental disability may include the ability to roll over, sit up, crawl, or walking begins much later than developmentally appropriate.

Living with an intellectual disability may mean tasks such as learning, socialising, self-care, communication are difficult. It can also cause difficulty interacting with others and personal care.

How does exercise help?

People living with disabilities are among the least active in our population. Unfortunately, for kids living with disabilities, a delayed development leads to reduced physical activity and further limitations to learning the same motor skills as others their age.

Not only are motor and social skills not developed, but this physical inactivity leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. People with disabilities benefit from the overall health improvements of exercise, as well as benefiting from improving specific deficits linked to their condition.

Exercise programs help people with developmental delay to learn new movement patterns such as walking, crawling, and jumping. Further, exercise improves muscle tone and balance.

For people with intellectual disabilities, exercise often helps increase ability to focus and improves confidence to interact throughout their community.

How do exercise physiologists work with developmental & intellectual disabilities?

Prescribing exercise programs for people living with developmental and intellectual disabilities involves understanding how these conditions can affect movement, learning, and motor planning.

Each person and the way their condition impacts them is very unique which requires looking deeper into the goals of the individual and how to best utilise exercise to reach them. When working with people with developmental or intellectual disabilities AEPs look for task or game based movements that work towards the clinical goals while enjoying the sessions. Our mobile exercise physiologists modify and adapt exercise prescription regularly to meet the needs of our clients and their goals.

Down syndrome is a genetic disorder involving developmental and intellectual impairments. Down syndrome may also cause cervical spine instability and heart abnormalities. People with Down syndrome experience delays with motor development leading to low muscle tone decreased body awareness and decreased balance. People with Down syndrome also may have some level of impairment to speech, hearing, vision, and a slowed ability to learn.  AEPs often work on strengthening muscle groups that have not developed, improving balance and coordination. A focus is also placed on setting up an environment that is appropriate for intellectual impairments.

ADHD is a condition that rises from brain development and activity which impacts attention, self-regulation, and activity level. People with ADHD often have a variety of symptoms including difficulty sitting still, impulsivity, and inattentiveness. Exercise can play a role in helping manage these symptoms by regulating emotions, improving sleep quality, and reducing stress. Exercise also has been shown to increase certain proteins in the brain which improve learning and working memory. AEPs help people with ADHD by building an exercise program that is able to be followed effectively and consistently. This may also involve working on behaviour change strategies to build healthy habits.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability of possible genetic or unknown origin that impacts a person’s ability to communicate and interact. Deficits include social awareness, as well as verbal and non-verbal communication. Exercise can be used to improve communication skills, hyperactivity, aggression, poor concentration and more.

Our team of mobile exercise physiologists take an individualised approach to each program, working to understand what developmental disorders are present to best set up an exercise regime that will be most effective.

We come to you

Meet our mobile Exercise Physiologists

Our specialist exercise physiologists work with many types of intellectual disabilities

Latest insights

Trent Brock | Mobile Exercise Physiologist

Trent Brock

mobile exercise physiologist
I have had 3 major passions throughout my life; exercise, competitive sports, and a strong will to help others. Those 3 factors made it an easy decision to pursue a career as an exercise physiologist. By encouraging and facilitating evidence-based exercise rehabilitation, I can help individuals living with various chronic conditions, particularly those living with neurological conditions.
I see exercise physiology as an extremely beneficial practice that enables clients to experience an improved quality of life. Personally, being able to provide insight into exercise and other tools that can equip clients with helpful skills and wellbeing improvements is extremely fulfilling. Being able to improve not only an individual, but their support network’s day-to-day life fills me with great joy and motivates me to continue to be better so that I can do better. I understand that everyone has a different view of exercise and there is no one-size fits all approach, so I operate with an open and adaptive mind, supported by evidence-based practices. If you or anyone that you know is looking to improve their quality of life and begin a journey to improved living, or just have any general questions, get in touch and let's have a chat!
Michelle Marais AEP

Michelle Marais

mobile exercise physiologist
My passion for movement, health, and helping others led me to become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Through this role, I facilitate exercise-based rehabilitation for individuals with various chronic conditions, with a primary interest and area of expertise in neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is about equipping clients with valuable skills that make daily tasks easier and empowering them to achieve their goals while enjoying the process.I take great pride in being a part of my clients' rehabilitation journey and exploring new methods with them to find the optimal exercise approach that works best for them.If you have any questions or are interested in starting your journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle, please feel free to reach out to me.
Angus Sullivan AEP

Angus Sullivan AEP

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
As an accredited exercise physiologist, I see my role as an opportunity to facilitate a safe and effective environment for my clients to explore their physical capabilities, identify areas where they would like to improve, and then prescribe meaningful and appropriate activities to achieve these improvements.
I currently work predominantly with individuals living with disability and have a keen interest in acquired brain injuries (ABI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), cerebral palsy (CP), spinal cord injuries (SCI) and rare neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is not only about achieving narrow objective goals (eg. 1 Rep Max bench press), but improving an individual’s lifestyle and making activities of daily living easier (mobilising, transferring, feeding, and more).
I love what I do and enjoy learning new methods and discussing different opinions about exercise. I am always happy to chat about it so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share!
Our team of mobile exercise physiologists

Walter White

manager of good vibes
Being active has taken on a whole new meaning and I am 100% here for it. I like to fink I'm pretty active, and I keep up de vibes during team meetings - just making sure everyone's hands are always moving (across my butt) because I know dat any exercise is good exercise.
I keep close to everyone, real close, just to keep dem on their toes when dey walk by too.
Fings are always better when I am der so if you need some good vibes, I will be der for you.
Brb just going to have a snooze.
Love and licks,
Brittney Kenward

Brittney Kenward

co-founder / Operations manager
I’m NOT an exercise physiologist, but I do take my hat off to my team and get to admire the work they do each and every day. Be Physiology means that we’re able to apply our passion, and our experience, to make exercise physiology more accessible to the people who need it the most.
You might hear the team describe me as ‘the person who does everything else’, and that can be translated to ‘marketing and operations'. My background is marketing and business, which I’ve lived and breathed since 2011. I’ve worked in both the agency and corporate spaces, across many industries, with many amazing people and now with Be Physiology, I get to explore the health industry further and continue to meet the most incredible people who are the ones to define motivation.
If you’ve met Harry and Aj, you’d know that they don’t really need marketing - they’re genuine, have ridiculous amounts of charisma, knowledgeable, and extremely passionate about helping people to be a better version of themselves. But, sometimes getting an introduction is the hardest part and that’s where I come in.
If you want to chat, a coffee, a laugh, I’m always here to make one or all of them happen.

So call me and let’s keep sharing the love!
Keegan Betts AEP

Keegan Betts AEP

mobile exercise physiologist
As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, my work is driven by my passion for movement, health, and empowering others. With my experience working with individuals of all ages who have neurological conditions such as autism, stroke, and cerebral palsy, I focus on delivering activity-based therapy to optimise their independence.
Seeing people empowered and handling daily tasks easier is incredibly rewarding, as well as being able to give others the tools to improve their mental health and prevent secondary health conditions.
I know the importance of creating a welcoming and safe environment particularly when improving our health and I always strive to ensure everybody feels supported by the team around them and receives the highest level of care.
Get in touch today and let's make it happen.
Kristen McCluskey

Kristen McCluskey

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
If you spend as little as 10 minutes a day exercising, it will still make a huge difference to your overall physical and mental health - this is a fact and it is very often underappreciated! The benefits of exercise don’t discriminate and the rumours are true, exercise is medicine.
Spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions and women’s health are areas I find to be very dynamic and that I am particularly passionate about, but all aspects of exercise physiology are unique and have a significant impact on people’s everyday lives and I want to continue bringing it to those who will benefit the most from it.
I'm passionate about learning new methods and learning what my clients enjoy and how they approach exercise. I am always happy to chat about the many benefits and outcomes of exercise physiology so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share.
If you’re interested in learning more about who I am or want to ask any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch at .
Charlotte Gill

Charlotte Gill

marketing assistant
My name is Charlotte, and I'm a sports enthusiast currently studying for a marketing degree. Although I am not an exercise physiologist, I have a passion for sports having a background in ski instructing and adaptive skiing. Like the team, I believe exercise is medicine and share a similar passion and values to help and motivate others I meet.
I've been fortunate enough to work globally with a background in event management, ski instructing, administrating, and climbing supervisor. However, working alongside the Be Physiology team as my dream role in marketing is a highlight. If you have had the pleasure of meeting the team, you will know their genuine, funny, knowledgeable, and passionate to help others. These are values that I also pride myself in, and I am so fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded colleagues.
Harry White AEP

Harry White AEP

co-founder / supervisor
Exercise physiology combines two of my favourite things: health and helping people. As an accredited exercise physiologist with more than seven years’ clinical experience, I have treated people presenting with a wide variety of health conditions and concerns, postural issues, chronic injuries and rehabilitation needs.
My expertise is spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders and helping my clients to achieve an improved quality of life through rehabilitation and functional training. Rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders can be slow but incredibly rewarding for clients when results are achieved, no matter how small. Assisting people through learning useful skills and functional training is the most important role that an EP can play to help people lead a more fulfilled life.
Working for many years with people who have suffered serious injury or live with a disability, I know that taking a proactive approach to your health changes your life. If you care for your body, it will take care of you.
I’m passionate about helping people live a long, healthy and active life, so call today.