DOI: 10.1177/08901171241233087 ISSN: 0890-1171

The Relationship of Exercise, Psychosocial Factors, and Social Participation Among Adults Aging With Long-Term Physical Disability: A Cross-Sectional Study

Kerri A. Morgan, Rachel Heeb Desai, Courtney Weber Trocinski, Holly Hollingsworth, Jessica Dashner, Michelle Putnam, Susan L. Stark
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health (social science)


This study investigated the relationships among exercise engagement, psychosocial factors, and social participation for adults aging with physical disabilities (AAwPD).


A cross-sectional study within a community-based cohort study of participation among AAwPD was conducted.


A comprehensive survey was administered online or via telephone.


Participants were 474 individuals between the ages of 45-65, primarily living in the Midwestern United States, who reported living with a physical disability for at least 5 years.


Survey questions created based on prior consolidation of activity domains assessed exercise engagement. Psychosocial health and social participation were measured using the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System. Chi-square tests, t-tests, and a general linear model were used to examine differences between exercisers and non-exercisers.


Participants who exercised reported less pain ( P < .001), fatigue ( P < .001), and depression ( P < .001) and greater self-efficacy for management of chronic conditions ( P = .002), satisfaction with participation in social roles and activities ( P < .001), and ability to participate in social roles and activities ( P < .001) compared with non-exercising participants.


AAwPD who exercised reported fewer secondary conditions and greater social participation. Although causal relationships cannot be drawn, and the frequency, duration, and intensity of exercise were not examined, this study lays important groundwork for future research to determine the health and participation benefits of exercise for AAwPD. Future studies should also focus on the development of exercise interventions to support successful aging with disability.

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