Physical activity and sport participation for people with long-term illness

Neil Heron, Margaret Cupples, Frank Kee, Mark Tully

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


Purpose:Physical activity is recommended for optimal prevention of cardiovascular disease(CVD) and participation in sport is associated with improved well-being. However, people with long-standing illness/disability are less likely to participate in sport than others. Evidence of factors associated with their participation is limited and the best approach to encourage participation is unknown. This study aimed to identify sport participation levels and their correlates, among adults with long standing illness/disability in Northern Ireland, where CVD prevalence is high. Method:Using routinely collected data in annual surveys of population samples from 2007 to 2011, descriptive statistics were derived. Chi-squared tests were used to compare characteristics of those with a long-term illness/disability and those without long-term health problems. Uni-variate binary regression analysis for the whole sample and those with a long-standing illness/disability, using sport participation as the dependent variable, was performed and variables with a p-value of 0.1 or less were taken into a multi-variate analysis. Results:The sample included 13,683 adults; 3550(26%) reported having long-term illness/disability. Fewer of those with, than without, long-term illness/disability reported sport participation in the previous year (868/3550(24.5%) v 5615/10133(55.6%)). Multi-variate analysis showed that, for those with long-standing illness/disability, being single and less socio-economically deprived correlated positively with sport participation. For both those with long-standing illness/disability and the full sample, sport participation correlated positively with being male, aged <56 years, access to a household car/van, sports club membership, health ‘fairly good’ or ‘good’ in the previous year, doing paid/unpaid work, and living in an urban location. For the full sample but not those with long-standing illness/disability, sport participation correlated positively with being a non-smoker, higher educational status and personal internet access. Of note, personal internet access was less for those with, than without, long-term illness/disability (41% v 70%). Conclusions:Efforts to promote physical activity in sport for those with long-standing illness/disability should target older people, married females, those who live rurally, and those who are socio-economically deprived and report their health as ‘not good’. Implementation of initiatives should not rely on the internet, to which these people may not have ready access, to help support their sport participation and physical activity in optimal CVD prevention.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2015
EventEuroPrevent Conference (European Society of Cardiology) - Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 14 May 201516 May 2015


ConferenceEuroPrevent Conference (European Society of Cardiology)


  • Physical activity
  • sport participation
  • disability
  • chronic illness


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