How far from community gyms do young people with cerebral palsy live?

Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 12:00 PM

Proximity to exercise facilities is a commonly reported barrier to physical activity for young people with disability, but no one has tried to ‘quantify’ this problem.

Yeshna Bhowon, a PhD student at La Trobe University working with CP Achieve’s  Professor Nora Shields,  did a study to find out how far council-owned community gyms were for young people with cerebral palsy aged 13 to 30 years living in metropolitan Melbourne. 

Here's what Yashna said about the work: 

We used deidentified data from the Victorian Cerebral Palsy Registry to help us with this study. We ‘geocoded’ the locations of young adults with cerebral palsy and the locations of gyms. We measured the distance to the closest gym two ways - ‘route-to-gyms’ and ‘as the crow flies’ methods. We found that 97% of young people with cerebral palsy living in Melbourne had reasonable access to a gym. A typical young adult would need to travel 3.6 km to their nearest community-gym. However, the other 3% of young people with cerebral palsy would need to travel 11.3 km to their nearest gym. When we ‘mapped’ these data, we found underserved regions in the South-East of Melbourne and in the outer Western suburbs (shown in red on the map).

As strategic planning is important for those involved in designing and developing infrastructure, we automated the methods we used in the form of an open-access user-interactive application. The app can be used to analyse and visualise the availability of infrastructure, for any population in any cities or region. The app is accessible to all through a link (below) and was coded with free software (R statistical software).

You can make your own map with your own data and find out for example, where should you run your programme? How far are people from a health infrastructure? Where should the next primary school be built in Melbourne? You can make strategic data-driven decisions using this free app!

You can access the app using the following link-

See link to

- Yeshna Bhowon, PhD student, La Trobe University