Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Peggy Mohr


Disabled Persons; Fitness Centers -- utilization


This research project was designed to provide well ness/fitness facilities, particularly the upcoming Wellness Center at the University of North Dakota (UND), with useful information to make facilities more accommodating to all individuals. The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors that influence participation in physical activity among people with physical disabilities and to investigate the types of accommodations and modifications that fitness facilities have in place.

Six individuals with physical disabilities participated in the focused interview portion of this study. Participants suggested modifications concerning physical activity for staffing, additional equipment, and other specific adaptations. The majority of participants also indicated the desire for the opportunity for a variety of experiences. Health benefits and being able to recognize self improvement were found to be the two major sources of motivation to exercise.

Thirty one representatives from NIRSA recreational/fitness facilities completed the online survey portion of this study (16% return rate). The online survey results showed that 80% of responding facilities had 7 out of 8 surveyed areas that were accessible to persons with physical disabilities. Of the eleven types of accommodations to encourage participation by individuals with disabilities, 68% of responding facilities had implemented 3. Twenty-two facilities offered information about the programs/services that were designed to include individuals with physical disabilities, and 48% of responding facilities reported staff members had received some type of training or credentials to work with individuals with disabilities.

It is our recommendation that further research be done to determine if accommodations and programs/services implemented by fitness facilities are effective and considered useful by individuals with disabilities.