The evidence that a large segment of the SCI population does not engage in any leisure-time physical activity whatsoever emphasizes the need for effective interventions to help people with SCI to become more physically active. In the SCI population, the majority of physical activity intervention studies are efficacy trials establishing the effects of physical activity on specific health outcomes. Few studies have examined strategies for increasing physical activity participation in this population. Thus, it is not surprising that programs and information to increase physical activity are two of the services most desired but least available to people with SCI (Hart et al. 1996; Boyd and Bardak 2004). To begin addressing this gap, this section reviews the physical activity intervention studies that include a measure of physical activity participation as a study outcome.
In the general population, three types of physical activity interventions have strong evidence of effectiveness: (1) Informational interventions that focus on delivering information to change knowledge and attitudes about the benefits of and opportunities for physical activity (e.g., a community-based media campaign), (2) Behavioural interventions that focus on teaching behavioural skills to promote physical activity participation (e.g., goal-setting), and (3) Environmental and policy interventions that focus on changing the physical environment, social networks, organizational norms and policies to enable physical activity participation (Kahn et al., 2002). Our review of physical activity interventions in the SCI population focuses solely on behavioural interventions. This narrow scope is due to the complete lack of research testing the effectiveness of informational and environmental interventions in the SCI population.