Availability of physical activity resources in the environment for adults with intellectual disabilities

Erin K. Howie, Timothy L. Barnes, Suzanne McDermott, Joshua R. Mann, John Clarkson, Rebecca A. Meriwether

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: Adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) have high rates of physical inactivity, yet little is known about the prevalence of facilitators and barriers in the built environment contributing to these high rates. Objective: To describe the physical activity resources available to adults with ID in both the home and day programs outside of the home. Methods: Demographic information was collected on a sample of adults with ID. A survey checklist of the physical activity environment at the participants' home and the facility or workplace where the participant spent his/her weekdays was collected by trained research staff. Differences in the prevalence of environmental resources between those living in group homes and those living alone or with family were tested using χ2 tests. Results: A total of 103 participants had complete demographic and environmental data. Of these, only 37.9% had exercise equipment available, 39.8% had sports equipment, and 15.5% had a bicycle in the home environment. At the facility where the individual attended a day program or where the individual was employed, 55.4 had sports equipment, 50.5% had an outdoor recreation area, 41.8% had an indoor recreation area, and 41.8 had organized physical activities. Those who lived in group homes were more likely to have access to basketball hoops, sports fields, and recreation centers than those who lived alone or with family ( p < .01). Conclusions: Adults with ID have few physical activity environmental resources and opportunities available to them, especially those not living in group homes. Future interventions are needed to increase physical activity opportunities in this underserved population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalDisability and Health Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Environment
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Physical activity

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