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UBC Theses and Dissertations
Physical fitness and intellectual disability : a grounded research study Speers, Peter David
This study set out to discover what social processes effect the physical fitness choices of people with intellectual disabilities. Within a constructionist grounded theory framework, I explored participants’ experiences with physical fitness and exercise activities. I was interested in how the participants learned about fitness and health related behaviors, who participated in these activities, and what their experiences meant to them. I also wanted to learn what barriers they met in participating in their chosen activities. Twenty-six individuals with intellectual disabilities living in Victoria, British Columbia participated in this research. The participants lived in a variety of community settings ranging from independent to semi-independent, home share and group homes. They ranged in age from 20 to 67 years. The data revealed how fitness and exercise choices were interwoven with the participants lived experience as a whole. The influence of personal relationships in the fitness choices and activity levels of participants was a dominant theme. Personal relationships played a key role in the micro or proximal social processes that effected fitness choices of the participants. On the micro level the results produced three models of social interaction that captured the main influences on participant choices of fitness activities. A macro analysis accompanies the interpretation of data. This second tier of analysis extends the research to take into account the larger socio-cultural forces at play. Here I combine Foucault’s notion of the governmentality of difficult populations with a critical look at neoliberal social and political philosophy to paint the back drop into which the micro relationships and social processes depicted in the three models are set. Throughout I kept the words of study s uppermost in my mind. The findings are discussed in relation to existing empirical literature on physical fitness and intellectual disabilities. The findings suggest that success in engaging people with intellectual disabilities in fitness activities requires an understanding of their fitness histories and involvement of people in their close social networks. (Key words: physical fitness, developmental disability/ intellectual disability; mental retardation and physical well-being; developmental disability/intellectual disability/mental retardation.).
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