Increased Long Term Engagement in Exercise After Short Term Supervised Gym Program in Persons With History of Polio

Ms. Su Wen Ng1, Ms. Claire Formby1, Ms. Karen Borschmann2

1Polio Services Victoria, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, Australia, 2Allied Health Research and Translation, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, Fitzroy, Australia

The aim of this study was to examine long term exercise engagement for persons with history of polio after participation in a supervised six-week gym program, and to identify their enablers and barriers to exercise.

A cross-sectional study with questionnaire data collected by telephone

Semi-structured telephone questionnaires regarding current physical activity and, enablers and barriers to exercise were conducted with individuals who had previously completed a supervised six-week gym program. Content analysis of qualitative data was performed.

Twenty-four participants, independently mobile with or without gait aid (n=23, 95.8%), female (n=15, 62.5%), on average 20 (IQR: 16.8–25.3) months post-program were included. Prior to the program, only 10 (41.7%) participants had engaged in structured exercise. At follow up, most participants (n=22, 91.7%) reported that they were undertaking exercise, in varied settings. Aquatic-based exercise was the preferred form. The most commonly reported enablers were perceived benefits (n=17, 70.8%) and fear of deterioration (n=7, 29.2%) whilst barriers were fatigue (n=10, 41.7%) and lack of time (n=10, 41.7%).

A high proportion of persons with history of polio reported continued engagement in long-term exercise following participation in a six-week supervised gym program. Psychosocial and environmental factors were identified as influencing long term exercise engagement, and there was variability across individuals’ exercise preferences.

Key Practice Points:

  • Persons with history of polio may engage with long term exercise after attending a gym program
  • Identifying enablers and barriers to exercise may be useful for maximising long term engagement


Su Wen Ng is the Senior Clinician Physiotherapist at Polio Services Victoria, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. She is also the Intrathecal Baclofen Clinic Co-ordinator and has worked in multiple teams across Health Independence Programs (HIP) including the Young Adult Complex Disability Service, Community Rehabilitation Centre and Rehabilitation in the Home since 2016. Su Wen has also worked abroad in the UK National Health Service and previously at Monash Health. Over the last ten years, she has developed a strong interest in Neurological Rehabilitation, Spasticity and Falls.

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