LTNC Research
Long-term involvement in fitness enablement (LIFE) study

Lead researcher: Dr Helen Dawes, Oxford Brookes University
Start date: Mid 2006
[email protected]

Background: Regular leisure-time activities provide health benefits in terms of physical fitness, mental health, disease prevention and participation in social activities. People with neurological disorders such as Muscular Dystrophy, Multiple Sclerosis and Cerebral Palsy; have been shown to benefit from involvement in physical activities that are prescribed specially for them.

Current rehabilitation for neurological conditions in the UK is mainly delivered in hospitals by physiotherapists using a medical model and does not attempt to empower people to increase their inclusion in community-based activities. Indeed, standard physiotherapy has been shown to have no major influence in improving people’s mobility in the community. Physical activities such as walking on a treadmill, muscle strengthening and functional circuit type exercises have been shown to be effective in improving mobility and also provide health benefits, encourage people to get out in the community and can be adapted in their format and delivery to suit individual preferences.

Although there is no specific evidence how many individuals with neurological conditions take part in physical activities, subjective evidence such as articles written by service users suggests that this may be limited. Indeed, uncertainty about the value of exercise and low participation of people with neurological condition led user groups to approach the research team and ask us to explore community base exercise provision. We will work with service users to investigate participation in physical activities in people with neurological disease living in the community of Oxfordshire.


  1. To establish how people would like exercise programmes supported
  2. To provide information on current community mobility
  3. To determine whether exercise delivered in a leisure centre, with a physical activity provision support system, is effective in improving activity levels

What we will do and how we will do it: Through the use of focus groups, surveys and interviews, we will explore activity levels, participation in leisure time physical activities and activity provision preferences in individuals with neurological diseases. We will then develop and evaluate a personalised physical activity support system using this evidence and evidence of effective exercise provision in consultation with exercise professionals. We will use a steering group led by people with neurological conditions to guide us throughout.

Project outputs: The information obtained from this study would be used to inform a bigger national study planned to enable involvement in physical activities in this group of individuals.

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