Physical Activity and Quality of Life Experienced by Highly Active Individuals with Physical Disabilities

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Peter R. Giacobbi Jr. University of Florida

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Michael Stancil University of Florida

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Brent Hardin University of Alabama

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Lance Bryant Arkansas State University

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The present study examined links between physical activity and quality of life experienced by individuals with physical disabilities recruited from a wheelchair user’s basketball tournament. The participants included 12 male and 14 female adults between the ages of 18–54 (M = 31.12, SD = 10.75) who all reported one or more condition(s) that impacted their daily living. They were administered the Physical Activity Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities (Washburn, Weimo, McAuley, Frogley, & Figoni, 2002) and in-depth interviews focused on their physical activity experiences and evaluations about their quality of life. Grounded theory analyses (Charmaz, 2000, 2002) revealed that individuals who use wheelchairs perceived a number of psychological, social, and health benefits associated with physical activity involvement. The participants’ evaluations and descriptions of their physical activity experiences appeared to support self-efficacy beliefs, feelings of empowerment, and motivation for continued involvement. Firstperson descriptions are presented to demonstrate how and why physical activity behaviors were perceived to enhance the quality of the participants’ lives.

Peter R. Giacobbi Jr. and Michael Stancil are with the Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida in Gainesville. E-mail: Pgiacobbi@hhp.ufl.edu. Brent Hardin is with the Kinesiology Department at the University of Alabama. Lance Bryant is with the Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science Department at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

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