Impact of enjoyment on physical activity and health among children with disabilities in schools

Jooyeon Jin, Ph.D., Joonkoo Yun, Ph.D., Stamatis Agiovlasitis, Ph.D.

Disability and Health Journal, Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 14-19


Enjoyment in school-based physical activity (PA) programs, such as recess or physical education may be important for promoting children’s health, but there is a lack of evidence explaining how enjoyment affects health in children with disabilities.


Enjoyment in school-based PA programs will positively influence general health through participating in more daily PA, and this relationship will vary between younger and older children with disabilities.


We conducted secondary analysis of data from the 2012 National Youth Fitness Survey. The sample included 241 children with disabilities (age 5–15 years; 129 boys and 112 girls) identified using three criteria: (a) having an impairment, health problem and mobility limitations; (b) needing special equipment; or (c) receiving special education services. Variables extracted were the number of days per week participating for at least 60 min in PA a day; general perceived health; enjoyment in school recess (for ages 5–11 y) or physical education (for ages 12–15 y). Mediation analysis was conducted to test the research hypotheses.


Daily PA participation significantly mediated the relationship between enjoyment in physical education/recess and general health. Children who enjoyed physical education or recess more participated in PA, and those who spent more days being physical active were healthier than their counterparts. However, this mediating relationship, when divided by age groups, was shown for only older group (ages 12–15 y) that received physical education.


Physical educators should provide enjoyable PA opportunities during physical education classes for students with disabilities for promoting their health.