Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Angela Mandich


The purpose of this dissertation was to explore the exercise participation of youth with a disability. The studies are grounded in self-determination theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan, 1985) and follow the General Model of Program planning (GMPP). The first study in this dissertation involved assessment interviews to explore exercise and youth with a disability. In the assessment interviews (Study 1), youth highlighted their desire for physical activity opportunities that promoted their independence, socializing with peers, and success in reaching fitness goals in a community based setting. The interviews with youth matched the central tenants of SDT that being: autonomy, relatedness and competence.

The next two studies in this dissertation (study 2 and study 3) are consistent with the intervention and evaluation phases of health promotion program planning. Both studies used a twelve session intervention study to measure the achievement of exercise goals and performance of exercise skills in an adapted fitness centre. From the SDT framework, the twelve session exercise intervention design promoted autonomy, competence and relatedness. Participants (n=10) were involved in the selection of exercise goals for twelve session visits. Each session was self-directed and recorded for study purposes. During the twelve session intervention, all participants achieved their fitness goals measures by Goal Attainment Scaling (GAS) and improved in the performance of exercise skills as measured by the Performance Quality Rating Scale (PQRS). All participants saw significant achievement in their fitness goals and their motor skill performance.

The final study explored the motivation to exercise for youth with a disability. Using the Behavioural Regulation in Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ 2), youth completed an on-line questionnaire exploring their behavioural regulation in exercise. This group of youth, who identified themselves as exercisers, had low levels of amotivation. Participants scored highest in integrated regulations with statements like “I participate in exercise because it has become a fundamental part of who I am”. These findings are important considering the numerous previous studies that have identified the additional barriers to exercise for this group compared to their same-age able bodied peers.