College years are an experimental phase in young adulthood and can lay the foundation for lifelong behaviors. One type of behavior developed during these years is the use of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA). LTPA experiences of typical college students have been examined, but there is a lack of studies examining the experiences of students with disabilities. The purpose of this inquiry is to understand the experiences of college students with disabilities and their LTPA, with focus on factors that facilitate or create barriers to engagement. Grounded theory was used to understand LTPA with undergraduates with mobility or visual impairments. Results indicated a theme of culture of physical activity and disability as they received a message that engagement in LTPA was “unnecessary” or “heroic,” which altered their LTPA experiences. Barriers to LTPA can be understood through a social relational lens to recognize the multidimensionality of barriers and facilitators to LTPA.
The author is with the Recreation, Parks, & Tourism Management Program, Kent State University, Kent, OH.