A qualitative exploration of participants’ experiences of taking part in a walking programme: perceived benefits, barriers, choices and use of intervention resources

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Background: Adults with Intellectual Disabilities (ID) experience significant inequalities and tend to be more sedentary and less physically active than the wider population. Walking programmes are an effective way to increase physical activity (PA) but have not been used in studies involving adults with ID.
Method: 19 adults with ID participated in semi-structured interviews or focus groups exploring their experiences of taking part in a walking programme (Walk Well). Data were coded using thematic analysis.
Results: Four overarching themes emerged: perceived benefits of taking part in the programme, perceived drawbacks/ barriers, walking choices and using the Walk Well resources. Whilst there was not a significant increase in walking for all, the participants reported positive experiences of taking part in the programme. Self-monitoring proved difficult for some, particularly reading the daily step-count recorded on the pedometer and writing it in the diary. Carers also played an important role in facilitating and preventing behaviour change in adults with ID.
Conclusion: Additional barriers prevent many adults with ID from participating in PA. Capturing participant experiences provides important information for designing effective and equitable health improvement programmes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2016


  • walking
  • physical activity
  • intellectual diabilities
  • qualitative
  • participant experiences
  • inequalities
  • health improvement programmes

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