A study of perceived facilitators to physical activity in neurological conditions
Elsworth C., Dawes H., Sackley C., Soundy A., Howells K., Wade D., Hilton-Jones D., Freebody J., Izadi H.
© 2009, MA Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved. Aims: The study aimed to determine the opinions of individuals with neurological conditions on factors facilitating their physical activity participation. Methods: Four condition-specific focus groups (muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease and Parkinson's disease) were run with a total of 24 people. Themes that emerged were used to create an eight-item self-completed questionnaire, which explored barriers to participation, preferred activities and support networks. A cross-sectional survey was then conducted using this questionnaire with individuals with a range of neurological conditions. Findings: Three themes categories emerged from the focus groups: ‘opinions of physical activity’, ‘barriers to physical activity’, and ‘factors that would encourage increased physical activity involvement’. Of the 115 distributed questionnaires, 80 (70%) responses were received. Swimming, stretching and walking were the three most popular activities. The most common barriers were embarrassment, perceived lack of condition-specific knowledge of the fitness professionals about neurological disease and the impact of that on exercise advice. Facilitators were use of specific groupbased exercise sessions and the presence of specifically trained staff. Conclusions: People with neurological conditions enjoy participating in physical activity but reported several barriers that prevent their participation in exercise. Respondents identified barriers and facilitators in functional, psychological and environmental domains. It is important that healthcare professionals and fitness professionals identify and remove these barriers to promote greater participation in exercise among people with neurological conditions.