Disability, Physical Activity and Sport: Promoting wellbeing and development

disability-activity-323x200There are various benefits of being physically active or participating in sport. However, partly because of a lack of knowledge about getting active, inaccessible environments, and negative social attitudes about disability, just 18% of disabled adults in the UK report engaging in at least one physical activity session per week. That number makes disabled people the least physically active group of people in society. How then can physical activity or sport be promoted among disabled people?

What we do

Led by Professor Brett Smith, our team combines world-class research on how to promote physical activity among disabled people with a passion to produce impactful work - research that makes a difference. We collaborate with user-led organisations (e.g. Disability Rights UK), major national bodies (eg; Public Health England), and researchers across the world (e.g. Canadian Disability Participation Project).

Uniquely in the field, our qualitative and quantitative research draws on psychology, sociology, and critical disability studies. It is also often community driven. For example, research is co-created with, not on, disabled people. It aims to develop useful solutions to promote an active lifestyle for their communities. 

To capture people's voices, and be informed by them, our research uses traditional qualitative methods (eg; focus groups) and more innovative qualitative methods (eg; mobile interviews, visual methods, and digital methods). It also utilises quantitative measures that capture various outcomes (eg; intentions to be physically active during leisure-time, self confidence, and wellbeing).

Grounded in both behavior change theory and user experiences, we have created and tested interventions that promote physical activity among disabled people. In order to ensure our research engages and reaches the public, knowledge is translated in numerous ways. This includes through stories, photography, and animation.

 Just 18% of disabled adults in the UK report engaging in at least one physical activity session per week

What are the outcomes of this research?

  • An evidence base for the value of community based research/interventions to promote physical activity or sport.
  • Enhanced physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Individual, social and community development.
  • Best practice physical activity guidelines for disabled people, the fitness industry and social workers.
  • Evidence based narratives (dialogical case studies) to promote physical activity. 

People involved