Online Program

An Examination of Perceived Barriers to Physical Activity at Fitness Centers for People Aging with Mobility Disabilities

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Vijay Vasudevan, PhD, MPH, Department on Disability and Human Development, Institute on Disability and Human Development, Chicago, IL
Despite the widely known benefits of physical activity, people with disabilities are more likely to be inactive when compared to people without disabilities (31.0% vs 53.7% respectively). Barriers to exercise at fitness centers could explain this disparity. The purpose of this study was to describe and measure how people with mobility disabilities rated the magnitude of barriers they encounter within fitness centers.

Participants participated in an in-person interview and completed the Barriers to Physical Activity Questionnaire for People with Mobility Impairments, the Physical Activity and Disability Survey, and a demographic questionnaire. Pearson correlation, and hierarchal linear regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationship between aerobic and strength exercise with fitness center barrier scores.  

Nearly half the participants (47.6%) did not go to a fitness center. The most frequently reported barrier included: the cost of the membership to a fitness center (37.0%), health insurance plans not covering membership fees (31.5%), lack of inclusive marketing (21.5%). There was a significant negative correlation between strength exercise and the fitness center’s built environment (r = -0.213, p<0.05) and staff/program/policy (r = -0.177, p<0.05). Linear regression found that age was a significant, negative predictor of strength exercise (β = -0.255, p<0.01), when controlling for fitness center barriers.

Fitness center features might be deemed accessible by previous questionnaires, but people aging with disabilities might perceive them as inaccessible. Strength exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of falls, and thus places fitness centers at the apex to promote health for people aging with disabilities.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the relationship between fitness center barriers and exercise for people aging with mobility impairments. Identify how fitness centers can be made more accessible for people with disabilities.

Keyword(s): Disabilities, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I received my PhD in Disability Studies and was the PI for this study
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.