FAU News

Award-winning FAU project brings health benefits for people with disabilities

Image: BVS Bayern/Carolin Kramer

FAU researchers successfully test health promotion programme for people with disabilities

Researchers at the Osteoporosis Research Centre (Osteoporose-Forschungszentrum, OFZ) at FAU’s Chair of Medical Physics have developed an exercise programme for people with disabilities that has been successfully tested in seven sheltered workshops across Bavaria. The OFZ researchers have been awarded the prevention award by the Bavarian State Ministry of Public Health and Care Services (StMGP) and the Bavarian Centre for Prevention and Health Promotion (Bayerisches Zentrum für Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung, ZPG) for their work. BVS Bayern, a Bavarian sports and rehabilitation association for people with disabilities, was also involved in the development of the training programme.

200 participants aged 20 to 50

People with disabilities often have more limited access to initiatives which promote exercise and health. As a consequence, they are more likely to suffer from heart disease, excess weight, back pain and other muscle or bone disorders. The researchers at OFZ developed an exercise programme that was specially designed to be used in sheltered workshops for people with disabilities. The project ‘Fit für Inklusion im Beruf’ (fit for inclusion in employment) was tested in seven locations with a total of 200 participants aged between 20 and 50 who took part in an 18-month fitness and stamina training programme.

During breaks the participants trained under the supervision of an instructor, working on improving stamina on stepper machines or balance pads to strengthen their cardiovascular system. They also did special exercises aimed at strengthening the back muscles, and used a power plate to improve their co-ordination and sense of balance while getting a full-body workout. The exercises are easy to do, meaning the participants were able to do them independently after a short time, and require very little space.

A successful project so far

The instructors increased the length and intensity of the exercises over time. Strength and endurance tests as well as laboratory tests which were carried out by the researchers at the end of the programme indicated a considerable improvement in comparison to the control groups.

‘This positive result after the initial phase shows that the project ‘Fit für Inklusion im Beruf’ has a positive effect on increasing the independence and health of employees, which can contribute to integration in the labour market,’ says Dr. Michael Bebenek, OFZ, with regard to the project’s success, ‘The workplace programmes are designed in such a way that in the future everyone will be able to exercise together, regardless of ability.’

The project is being funded by the Bavarian State Ministry of Labour, Social and Family Affairs and Integration.

Further information:

Dr. Michael Bebenek
Phone: +49 9131 8523999