Exercise Programming for Veterans

Examining the Outcomes on Quality of Life

Jun Oh, a doctoral student at Texas Women’s University, under the supervision of Dr. Ron Davis, directed a 9-week structured exercise program on veterans and community members with physical disabilities. Jun not only examined outcomes on health-related physical fitness (e.g., muscular strength) but he also studied self-efficacy and quality of life.

Study Design

Jun conducted his I’m An Athlete study through a local community-based adapted fitness training facility located in North Texas. His participants had varied physical disabilities and included persons with amputee, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and stroke. Participants completed 9 weeks of a structured exercise program that was held for 90 minutes, 3 times per week. I thoroughly appreciated two unique aspects to this study, name, mental preparation prior to exercise and group discussion and mental relaxation post-exercise. I think we often forget that exercise often occurs in social communities and I was pleased that Jun incorporated non-physical health-related components in a setting where participants felt supported.

Results

Strength improved which, in turn, can improve self-efficacy (or the perceived ability to do something well) and quality of life. Improved strength, a key component of function for people with physical disabilities, has a lot of important benefits in this population as strength is essential to wheelchair mobility, work capacity, and active lifestyle behaviors. Jun also recognized that engaging in exercise with others who have similar impairments played a critical role in the improvement of quality of life demonstrated in the current study. In essence, the exercise program created new social opportunities as participants were able to share information and provide positive feedback about their experiences.

Conclusion

Evidence from this study supported the ability of an exercise program to has a positive influence on strength, self-efficacy, quality of life, and social integration. Great study in a program (TWU) that continues to advance the benefits of adapted physical activity.