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The Journal of Social Distress and Homelessness has published  Dr. Tonya Miller and her colleagues’ research paper on physical activity and the effect it has on women experiencing homelessness.

Miller and her colleagues’ research, detailed in the paper, “An exploratory study of physical activity educational programming for women experiencing homelessness,” found that participants of a four-week physical activity program reported a significant decrease in the number of mentally unhealthy days they experienced.

The study was conducted by Miller, who heads the University’s Physical Therapy doctoral degree program that is under development, and Jenna Marx, Ph.D.; and Lori Portzer, Ph.D.; both of Lebanon Valley College, with research support from undergraduate and graduate students.

Study participants included 27 women residing in two women’s shelters who were educated on the importance of physical activity and exercise. After they were outfitted with wrist fitness trackers, participants engaged in weekly reflections on personal goals, and participated in focus group discussions. During the last sessions, the focus group discussions centered on future program structure and content.

The paper abstract is below:

“This exploratory study examined the impact of physical activity education on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and the physical performance of women experiencing homelessness. Twenty-seven women experiencing homelessness and residing in two women’s shelters participated in a four-week physical activity education program. The program consisted of education in physical activity and exercise, activity tracking with wrist fitness trackers, and weekly reflections on personal goals. During the last session, focus group discussions on future program structure and content were held. The women participating in the physical activity educational program saw no statistically significant difference in physically unhealthy days during the program as compared to the preceding month. Participants reported a significant decrease in the number of mentally unhealthy days following the intervention (Healthy Days Core Module (HDCM3) [r (26) = 0.57, p = 0.03]). The results of this pilot study suggest a positive connection between physical education programs and HRQoL for women experiencing homelessness. The focus group discussion provided insight into program strengths, challenges, and future opportunities.”


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