'Finding what works for me' - a qualitative study of factors influencing community gym participation for young adults with cerebral palsy
Reviewed by Kathleen Friel
Citation: McKenzie G, Shields N, Willis C. 'Finding what works for me' - a qualitative study of factors influencing community gym participation for young adults with cerebral palsy. Disabil Rehabil. 2023 Jun;45(12):1984-1991. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2022.2083243.
Study type/population: Thirty-nine young adults with CP participated in a semi-structured interview after completing a gym-based fitness intervention called FitSkills. Participants aged in range from 15-30 years and spanned GMFCS levels I-IV. The FitSkills program matched young people with CP to peers, and held exercise sessions in gyms.
Key findings: A key driver of enthusiasm for gym-based exercise is peer support. Social engagement and mental well-being are also important to young adults with CP in the context of exercise. Psychological factors, support from the gym staff, and cost were also identified by participants as important factors to promote long-term wellness. Young adults with CP are often self-conscious about their bodies. Accepting and welcoming gym environments are urgently needed.
Translation to Practice: Clinicians often encourage their patients with CP to exercise. This study emphasizes that social engagement and welcoming facilities are key for these individuals to exercise. Clinicians should consider establishing connections with community-based recreational programs, such that people with CP can be referred to welcoming exercise opportunities.