Examining the preliminary effects of an adapted physical activity program on physical activity among students and staff with physical disabilities


Individuals living with a physical disability are often overlooked on university campuses when it comes to physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to examine the preliminary effects of Fitness Access McGill (FAM), an adapted PA program, on self-determination theory variables and PA among individuals with a physical disability. Thirteen university students and six staff (N=19, Mage=31.79±12.53) completed an 8-week personalized FAM program with a registered kinesiologist and kinesiology internship students. All participants completed validated questionnaires before and immediately after FAM to assess the psychological needs, autonomous and controlled motivation, and leisure time physical activity (LTPA). To examine changes in the variables, we conducted a paired-samples t-test and calculated repeated measures effect sizes. Autonomy (t(1,18)=3.42, p=0.003, dRMpooled=0.79), competence (t(1,18)=3.40, p=0.03, dRMpooled=0.79), and relatedness (t(1,18)=3.86, p=0.001, dRMpooled=0.89) significantly increased from baseline to endpoint. Autonomous motivation had a moderate to large (non-significant) increase (t(1,18) =2.00, p=0.06, dRMpooled=0.52). LTPA (t(1,18)=2.51 , p=0.02, dRMpooled=0.58) and strenuous PA (t(1,18)=3.30 , p=0.004, dRMpooled=0.81) significantly increased from baseline to endpoint, while mild and moderate only had small, non-significant increases (dRMpooled=0.06, dRMpooled=0.27, respectively). This study provides preliminary evidence that participation in the FAM program can support the three basic psychological needs related to PA while increasing motivation, LTPA, and strenuous PA. There results support the expansion of FAM and a future study to explore the long-term impact of FAM.