Leisure time physical activity participation in individuals with spinal cord injury in Malaysia: barriers to exercise

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Study design



An epidemiological study describing leisure time physical activities (LTPA) and the associations of barriers, sociodemographic and injury characteristics to moderate-vigorous aerobic exercise participation among individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) in a developing Southeast Asian country.


SCI community in Malaysia.


The study sample consisted of 70 participants with SCI. Questionnaires were distributed containing an abbreviated Physical Activity Scale for Individuals with Physical Disabilities (items 2–6) and the Barriers to Exercise Scale using a 5-tier Likert format. Statistical analyses were χ2 tests, odds ratios, and binary forward stepwise logistic regression to assess the association and to predict factors related to participation in moderate-vigorous intensity aerobic exercise (items 4 and 5).


Seventy-three percent of the study sample did not participate in any form of moderate or vigorous LTPA. The top three barriers to undertaking LTPA (strongly agree and agree descriptors) were expensive exercise equipment (54%), pain (37%) and inaccessible facilities (36%). Participants over the age of 35 years, ethnicity, health concerns, perceiving exercise as difficult and indicating lack of transport were significantly different (p < 0.05) between participation and non-participation in moderate-vigorous aerobic exercise type of LTPA. Age, ethnicity, indicated health concerns and lack of transport were the significant predictors in likelihood of participating in moderate-vigorous LTPA (p < 0.1).


The issues raised depicted barriers within the intrapersonal (health concerns, exercising is too difficult, pain while exercising, age more than 35), interpersonal (different ethnicity), community (expensive exercise equipment), and policy levels (lack of or poor access to transportation, inaccessible facilities) that prevent LTPA participation.

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This study was partially funded by the University of Malaya Research Grant (RG554-15HTM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We would like to thank Professor Jenny Peat for her assistance with the statistical analysis.

Author information


  1. Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    • Maziah Mat Rosly
    •  & Ruby Husain
  2. Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

    • Maziah Mat Rosly
    • , Mark Halaki
    •  & Glen M Davis
  3. Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    • Nazirah Hasnan
  4. Department of Mechatronics Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, International Islamic University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    • Hadi Mat Rosly


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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maziah Mat Rosly.