Original article| Volume 95, ISSUE 1, P20-28, January 2014

Exercise for Everyone: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Project Workout on Wheels in Promoting Exercise Among Wheelchair Users



      To compare the effectiveness of 2 home-based behavioral interventions for wheelchair users to promote exercise adoption and maintenance over 12 months.


      Randomized controlled trial, with participants stratified into groups based on disability type (stable, episodic, progressive) and support partner availability.


      Exercise occurred in participant-preferred locations (eg, home, recreation center), with physiological data collected at a university-based exercise laboratory.


      Inactive wheelchair users (N=128; 64 women) with sufficient upper arm mobility for arm-based exercise were enrolled. Participants on average were 45 years of age and lived with their impairment for 22 years, with spinal cord injury (46.1%) most commonly reported as causing mobility impairment.


      Both groups received home-based exercise interventions. The staff-supported group (n=69) received intensive exercise support, while the self-guided group (n=59) received minimal support. Both received exercise information, resistance bands, instructions to self-monitor exercise, regularly scheduled phone calls, and handwritten cards.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The primary outcome derived from weekly self-reported exercise. Secondary outcomes included physical fitness (aerobic/muscular) and predictors of exercise participation.


      The staff-supported group reported significantly greater exercise (∼17min/wk) than the self-guided group over the year (t=10.6, P=.00), with no significant between-group difference in aerobic capacity (t=.76, P=.45) and strength (t=1.5, P=.14).


      Although the staff-supported group reported only moderately more exercise, the difference is potentially clinically significant because they also exercised more frequently. The staff-supported approach holds promise for encouraging exercise among wheelchair users, yet additional support may be necessary to achieve more exercise to meet national recommendations.


      List of abbreviations:

      ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), AIC (Akaike information criterion), HR (heart rate), SCI (spinal cord injury), SRAHP (Self-Rated Abilities for Health Practices Scale), THR (target heart rate)
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