People with newly acquired and existing disability have one of the highest rates of physical inactivity compared with any other subgroup in the United States. For more than 50 million Americans with disabilities, lack of regular exercise increases their risk for developing the health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Professionals in rehabilitation and exercise science must join forces in promoting higher levels of physical activity among people with newly acquired or existing disability after they are discharged from rehabilitation. Establishing a strong and cohesive relationship between rehabilitation providers and exercise professionals at the ‘infection point’ when rehabilitation ends and sustainable exercise must begin will capture individual awareness and knowledge of how and why extending the recovery process into community-based exercise facilities has substantial potential for improving their health and quality of life.
Mieke G. Wasner and James H. Rimmer
This study evaluated nontherapeutic exercise programs offered in senior living facilities (SLFs), which included nursing homes, licensed and nonlicensed continuing care retirement communities, and senior independent living apartments. Exercise programs were evaluated on five criteria: number of different classes offered, instructors’ employment titles, exercise setting, program staffing levels, and amount and type of exercise equipment. Data revealed that chair exercises were the most common form of exercise, followed by stretching and supervised walking. The majority of exercise leaders were employed full-time (60%) but did not have degrees in exercise science, physical education, nursing, or physical therapy. Programs were mainly offered in multipurpose rooms or in other areas such as dining rooms, hallways, or lounges. Less than 27% of the SLFs followed American College of Sports Medicine exercise guidelines. This study found little consistency in the type of exercise programs offered to older adults in SLFs. Future research should evaluate the effectiveness of exercise classes offered in these facilities.
Barth B. Riley, James H. Rimmer, Edward Wang and William J. Schiller
Access to fitness and recreation facilities is an important issue for people with disabilities. Although policy and legislation have helped to remove various environmental barriers, there remain a substantial number of inaccessible features in fitness and recreation facilities. This article presents an approach for improving the accessibility of fitness and recreation environments that enables participation and input from members of the community, as well as persons with expertise in accessibility. Through a collaboration between facilities, persons with disabilities and accessibility consultants, the approach provides a process of incremental change through readily achievable barrier removal and by providing an information and educational resource concerning barrier removal, disability awareness, and economic and information resources. Technology is incorporated to facilitate accessibility assessment, interaction between various stakeholders, and the creation of an accessibility solutions database. Policy implications of this approach are discussed.