Enabling exercise participation among adolescents and young adults with disability

Professor Nora Shields

Professor of Physiotherapy at La Trobe University


Adolescents and young adults with disability have much to gain from participating in exercise. Being physically active can help people maintain a healthy body weight, prevent physical decline and increase social connectedness. Many young people with disability, however, have sedentary lifestyles despite the known benefits of exercise. The reasons for their lack of participation in exercise are complex and multifactorial, and include many socio-ecological in addition to personal factors.

This presentation will provide an overview of available evidence for the benefits of exercise for young people with disability; it will highlight emerging implementation research on inclusive community-based exercise and physical activity options for young people with disability; and it will consider future research that would help facilitate the participation of youth with disability, particularly those with complex disability, in exercise and physical activity in everyday community settings.


Nora Shields is Professor of Physiotherapy at La Trobe University. Her research aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disability through participation in physical activity and exercise. She established the innovative, evidence-based FitSkills program to facilitate youth with disability to exercise with a student mentor at their local gym and currently leads a National Health and Medical Research Council research translation partnership project to develop this concept further.