Could a new fitness app help people with disabilities be more physically active?

Researchers from Loughborough University are working with the founders of a new fitness app, created specifically for people with impairments, to test its usability and effectiveness.

The Accessercise app was created by Loughborough-based Para-powerlifter, Ali Jawad, multiple world champion sailor, Sam Brearey, and Financial Times top ranked legal partner, Yulia Kyrpa.

The app includes a directory of gyms and fitness facilities ranked by users for accessibility, a social hub where users can connect with like-minded people, exercise and workout libraries tailored to different impairments, and the ability to set goals and schedule workouts so users can track their progress over time. It is being built by full cycle development firm, Tallium from Kyiv, Ukraine.

Academics from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences and Peter Harrison Centre for Disability Sport will be assessing how effective the app is at improving physical activity in people with disabilities from across the UK who don’t currently meet recommended guidelines.

To do this they will be conducting interviews and focus groups to examine usability, as well as a small randomised controlled trial to test effectiveness. The trial will compare people that do and do not use the app over three months, measuring whether physical activity, fitness, and psychological wellbeing improve after using the app over the trial period.

Dr David Maidment, a Lecturer in Psychology, will be leading the study, alongside Doctoral Researcher James Haley. Speaking about the project, he said: “My research focuses on digital interventions to improve physical activity and reduce disease risk in adults with disabilities, so when I heard about this app, I was very interested to find out more.

“People who live with physical disabilities are one of the least active populations globally, so accessible interventions are needed to try and change this and improve their health outcomes. I’m looking forward to working with the Accessercise team to see if their app can help its users be more physically active.”

Sam Brearey, CEO of Accessercise will be supporting the Loughborough team. Commenting on this new partnership, he said: “We are excited and humbled to be working with one of the most innovate universities in the world, with an incredible track record in the physical activity, sport, and health sectors. Loughborough University lead their industry and we hope with their support and cooperation, Accessercise will lead the disability exercise, healthy living, and accessibility industry. Empowering change amongst those most in need.

“With 1.2 billion disabled people on the planet, Accessercise and Loughborough have a real chance to change the lives of so many people, breaking down barriers, providing resource, knowledge, and support. Accessercise aims to drive the much-needed change in inclusivity, equality, and accessibility for the disabled community.”