Is Exercise Good for People with Prader-Willi syndrome?


What is Prader-Willi Syndrome?

Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a rare genetic disorder that can cause a range of physical and cognitive challenges, including obesity and difficulty controlling appetite. While there is no cure for PWS, management strategies can help people with the condition lead a healthy and fulfilling life. In addition to exercise, there are other ways to manage the condition. In this post, we’ll explore various management strategies for PWS and their benefits, with a focus on physical activity.

Exercising with Prader-Willi Syndrome

Exercise has numerous benefits for people with PWS. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Helps Control Weight: Obesity is a common problem for people with PWS due to a constant feeling of hunger. Regular exercise can help burn calories and manage weight, reducing the risk of related health problems.
  2. Improves Cardiovascular Health: Exercise can help improve heart health, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease, which is a significant risk factor for individuals with PWS.
  3. Strengthens Bones and Muscles: Exercise can help build and maintain bone density, improve muscle strength, and reduce the risk of falls and fractures.
  4. Boosts Immune Function: Exercise can help strengthen the immune system.
  5. Improves Mental Health: Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance cognitive function.
  6. Enhances Sleep: Regular exercise can help improve sleep quality and duration, which is essential for overall health and well-being.
  7. Increases Energy Levels: Exercise can help increase energy levels and reduce fatigue, improving quality of life.

Other Management Strategies for PWS

In addition to exercise, there are other ways to manage PWS. Here are some additional management strategies and their benefits:

  1. Controlled Diet: A controlled diet is essential for people with PWS to manage weight and control appetite. A dietitian can help develop a personalised plan that meets your nutritional needs.
  2. Medications: Certain medications may help manage symptoms of PWS, such as growth hormone therapy to improve growth and development.
  3. Behavioural Therapy: Behavioural therapy can help people with PWS develop coping strategies for managing emotions and behaviour, reducing the risk of self-harm and aggression.
  4. Structured Environment: A structured environment can help people with PWS feel secure and reduce anxiety. Structured routines and clear expectations can help promote independence and reduce behavioural problems.
  5. Support Groups: Support groups can provide emotional support for people with PWS and their families, as well as information and resources for managing the condition.

Incorporating Exercise into a Management Plan for PWS

When incorporating exercise into a management plan for PWS, it’s essential to consider individual needs and abilities. Here are some tips to get started:

  1. Consult a Healthcare Professional: Before starting an exercise programme, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional familiar with PWS to develop a personalised plan that meets individual needs and limitations.
  2. Start Slowly: Start with low-impact exercises such as walking or swimming and gradually increase intensity and duration over time.
  3. Consider Supervision: Supervision during exercise may be necessary to ensure safety and prevent overexertion or injury.
  4. Find Activities That Are Enjoyable: Encourage participation in physical activities that the individual enjoys to increase motivation and adherence to the exercise programme.
  5. Create a Structured Routine: Incorporate exercise into a structured routine to help with consistency and reduce anxiety around changes in daily routines.
  6. Address Barriers to Exercise: Address any barriers to exercise that may exist, such as transportation or accessibility issues, and develop strategies to overcome them.


Exercise is an important management strategy for individuals with PWS. Regular physical activity can help control weight, improve cardiovascular health, strengthen bones and muscles, boost immune function, improve mental health, enhance sleep, and increase energy levels. In addition to exercise, there are other ways to manage PWS, such as a controlled diet, medications, behavioural therapy, a structured environment, and support groups. By incorporating exercise and other management strategies into a personalised plan, people with PWS can lead a healthy and fulfilling life.

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  2. Butler, M. G., Lee, J., Manzardo, A. M., & Gold, J. A. (2016). Prader-Willi syndrome: clinical genetics, diagnosis, and treatment approaches. Journal of child neurology, 31(3), 259-270.

  3. Deal, C. L., Tony, M., Höybye, C., Allen, D. B., Tauber, M., & Christiansen, J. S. (2013). Growth hormone research society workshop summary: consensus guidelines for recombinant human growth hormone therapy in Prader-Willi syndrome. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 98(6), E1072-E1087.

  4. Kuppens, R. J., & Donze, S. H. (2019). Behavioural management of self-injury in Prader-Willi syndrome. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 63(7), 752-760.

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