Universal Accessibility of "Accessible" Fitness and Recreational Facilities for Persons With Mobility Disabilities

This study descriptively measured the universal accessibility of “accessible” fitness and recreational facilities for Ontarians living with mobility disabilities.

by Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Faculty of Department of Kinesiology, Centre for Health Promotion and Rehabilitation, McMaster University, Kathleen A. Martin Ginis, Faculty, Department of Kinesiology, Centre for Health Promotion and Rehabilitation, McMaster University


Arbour Nicitopoulos Martin Ginid2011


This study descriptively measured the universal accessibility of “accessible” fitness and recreational facilities for Ontarians living with mobility disabilities. The physical and social environments of 44 fitness and recreational facilities that identified as “accessible” were assessed using a modified version of the AIMFREE. None of the 44 facilities were completely accessible. Mean accessibility ratings ranged between 31 and 63 out of a possible 100. Overall, recreational facilities had higher accessibility scores than fitness centers, with significant differences found on professional support and training, entrance areas, and parking lot. A modest correlation was found between the availability of fitness programming and the overall accessibility of fitness-center specific facility areas. Overall, the physical and social environments of the 44 fitness and recreational facilities assessed were limited in their accessibility for persons with mobility disabilities. Future efforts should be directed at establishing and meeting universal accessibility guidelines for Canadian physical activity facilities.

Published January 2011

About the Authors

My research program is theory-driven and scientifically rigorous, using both qualitative and quantitative research methods, to measure, understand, and change physical activity behaviour in children, youth, and adults with chronic disabilities. My research focus and objectives stem from the program of research and applied work that I began during my graduate studies, and extended during my Postdoctoral Fellowship, where I examined theory-based, physical activity determinants and interventions in persons with spinal cord injury and schizophrenia. This research inspired me to develop a program of research that examines the utility of theory-based, knowledge mobilization research for promoting psychosocial health and physical activity participation within individuals living with chronic disabilities.


McMaster University is a public research university in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. The main McMaster campus is on 121 hectares of land near the residential neighbourhoods of Ainslie Wood and Westdale, adjacent to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

More Articles in this Category

Fort River Birding and Nature Trail

The Fort River Birding and Nature Trail is a universally accessible trail. It was presented with the 2014 Paul Winske Access Award by the Stavros Center for Independent Living.

Trail Design & Maintenance

For trails to be considered “sustainable” they must meet these recreational needs while providing adequate protection to the environment while minimizing trail maintenance.

American Trails Webinar - The Science of Sustainable Trail Design and Management

This webinar describes the three most common forms of trail impact, identifies the most influential factors to develop and maintain sustainable trail networks, and discusses methods for rating trail sustainability.

Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook

The purpose of the Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook, 3rd Edition is an information resource developed to provide a unified reference document on prevalent and best practices as well as adopted standards relative to highway-rail grade crossings.