The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity participation among Canadians with disabilities


Purpose: To examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on physical activity (PA) levels, and the physical and mental health of Canadian adults with a disability. Methods: The COVID-19 Disability Survey asked Canadians with disabilities about their COVID-19 related concerns, needs, wellbeing, and lifestyle. PA levels were assessed by the International Physical Activity Questionnaire and physical and mental health by the PROMIS Global-10. 602 participants completed the survey between June and December 2020. Results: The pandemic negatively impacted the PA habits of >64% of respondents with disabilities. 59% of respondents reported completing no moderate-vigorous PA in the week prior to completing the questionnaire, whereas just 19% met the World Health Organization's recommendations of ?150min/week of moderate intensity PA. 93% and 53% of respondents reported their physical and mental health to be poorer than the average able-bodied adult, respectively. Access to recreation programs was the greatest unmet need during the pandemic; 76% of respondents reported recreation was an unmet need during the pandemic compared to 30% before the pandemic. Conclusions: This is the largest study of PA behaviours among Canadians with disabilities to date and highlights pandemic's negative impact on PA and self-reported health. Our findings around the unmet needs of the respondents have supported policy change by the Ontario Government regarding access to PA programs and may be used further to advise government and/or community responses in addressing the PA needs of Canadians with disabilities.