Sustainability of exercise intervention outcomes among people with disabilities: a secondary review

Academic Article


  • Background: This review explored the sustainability of health and physical activity-based outcomes following exercise trials that were conducted for people with disabilities, and characterised the influence of technology and behaviour change strategies. Methods: A total of 132 studies were screened from an existing database. Results: Only 22 studies featured follow-up periods and met eligibility criteria. At follow-up, studies typically reported at least one significant health outcome that was maintained (n = 18/21; 86%). However, significant health outcomes accounted for only 32% of the total volume of outcomes that were measured at follow-up. For physical activity-based outcomes, six studies (n = 6/8; 75%) reported that intervention gains were maintained throughout follow-up. The incorporation of technology or behaviour change strategies appeared to be linked with sustainable intervention effects. Conclusions: Overall, some evidence demonstrated that post-intervention effects were sustainable. However, the strength of the evidence was weak and several existing gaps in knowledge were identified. Moreover, most studies did not focus on sustainability, but instead emphasised short-term effects of exercise participation on health and physical activity outcomes. Study findings call for greater research and programme efforts to maintain health, function, and physical activity behaviour after supports provided by research studies are removed.Implications for rehabilitation Short-term exercise programmes may require additional strategies designed specifically to enhance the sustainability of exercise outcomes and physical activity participation. Incorporating technology within exercise interventions may enhance the likelihood of sustaining health and function outcomes. Exercise programmes framed within behaviour change theory can equip individuals with the appropriate strategies necessary to maintain their physical activity participation.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 1552274
  • Author List

  • Lai B; Kim Y; Wilroy J; Bickel CS; Rimmer JH; Motl RW
  • Start Page

  • 1584
  • End Page

  • 1595
  • Volume

  • 41
  • Issue

  • 13