Exercise for everyone: A randomized controlled trial of project workout on wheels in promoting exercise among wheelchair users

Katherine Froehlich-Grobe, Jaehoon Lee, Lauren Aaronson, Dorothy E. Nary, Richard A. Washburn, Todd D. Little

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the effectiveness of 2 home-based behavioral interventions for wheelchair users to promote exercise adoption and maintenance over 12 months. Design: Randomized controlled trial, with participants stratified into groups based on disability type (stable, episodic, progressive) and support partner availability. Setting: Exercise occurred in participant-preferred locations (eg, home, recreation center), with physiological data collected at a university-based exercise laboratory. Participants: Inactive wheelchair users (N=128; 64 women) with sufficient upper arm mobility for arm-based exercise were enrolled. Participants on average were 45 years of age and lived with their impairment for 22 years, with spinal cord injury (46.1%) most commonly reported as causing mobility impairment. Interventions: Both groups received home-based exercise interventions. The staff-supported group (n=69) received intensive exercise support, while the self-guided group (n=59) received minimal support. Both received exercise information, resistance bands, instructions to self-monitor exercise, regularly scheduled phone calls, and handwritten cards. Main Outcome Measures: The primary outcome derived from weekly self-reported exercise. Secondary outcomes included physical fitness (aerobic/muscular) and predictors of exercise participation. Results: The staff-supported group reported significantly greater exercise (∼17min/wk) than the self-guided group over the year (t=10.6, P=.00), with no significant between-group difference in aerobic capacity (t=.76, P=.45) and strength (t=1.5, P=.14). Conclusions: Although the staff-supported group reported only moderately more exercise, the difference is potentially clinically significant because they also exercised more frequently. The staff-supported approach holds promise for encouraging exercise among wheelchair users, yet additional support may be necessary to achieve more exercise to meet national recommendations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-28
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • Exercise
  • Intervention studies
  • People with disabilities
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Rehabilitation
  • Wheelchairs


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