There is a dearth of research on the exercise and activity patterns of persons with disabilities, particularly minority women with disabilities. This lack of information makes it difficult for public health officials to set policy guidelines for this segment of the population.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to survey the exercise and activity patterns of African-American women with severe physical disabilities (N = 50).
Methods: The Physical Activity and Disability Survey (PADS) was created for subjects who have a severe limitation in movement and function (e.g., limited ability to stand or walk, needs an assistive aid to ambulate, needs assistance with activities of daily living). Reliability data were obtained on the PADS for interrater, test-retest, and internal consistency on the two subscales (Exercise and Activity). The Exercise subscale had an interrater reliability of 0.83 and test/retest reliability of 0.85. The Activity subscale had an interrater reliability of 0.68 and test/retest reliability of 0.66. Cronbach's alpha for internal consistency was 0.78 for the Exercise subscale and 0.68 for the Activity subscale.
Results: Results showed very low levels of exercise and general activity patterns in African-American women with physical disabilities. Only 8.2% of the sample participated in leisure-time physical activity, and only 10% engaged in aerobic exercise three or more days per week for at least 15 min. Unstructured physical activity (e.g., work-related activity, housework, gardening, shopping) was nearly absent.
Conclusion: Our data suggest that the extremely low levels of self-reported physical activity in African-American women with severe physical disabilities expose them to a higher risk of secondary health conditions.