Physical Activity Enjoyment, Perceived Barriers, and Beliefs Among Adolescents With and Without Intellectual Disabilities

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Youths with intellectual disabilities (ID) exhibit low levels of physical activity, but the underlying contributors to behavior are unclear. We compared physical activity enjoyment, perceived barriers, beliefs, and self-efficacy among adolescents with ID and typically developing (TD) adolescents.


A questionnaire was administered to 38 adolescents with ID (mean age, 16.8 years) and 60 TD adolescents (mean age, 15.3 years). Of the original 33 questionnaire items, 23 met the test-retest reliability criteria and were included in the group comparisons.


Fewer adolescents with ID reported that they have someone with whom to do physical activity (64% vs 93%: P < .001), and a greater percentage of adolescents with ID perceived that physical activities were too hard to learn (41% vs 0%; P < .001). Fewer adolescents with ID believed that physical activity would be good for their health (92% vs 100%; P = .05). More adolescents with ID reported a dislike of individual physical activities (P = .02). A large percentage of adolescents with ID (84%) responded that they were good at doing physical activities, but the difference between groups was only of borderline significance (95% of TD adolescents, P = .06).


Adolescents shared many of the same perceptions about physical activity, but some important differences between groups were identified.

Stanish ( is with the Dept of Exercise and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA. Curtin, Maslin, and Bandini are with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Charlestown, MA. Bandini is also with the Dept of Health Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA. Must and Phillips are with the Dept of Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA.