Date of Award

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health and Kinesiology

First Advisor

Meghan H. McDonough

Committee Chair

Meghan H. McDonough

Committee Member 1

William Harper

Committee Member 2

Elizabeth S. Zauber


Group physical activity programs for clinical populations can provide opportunities for adaptive social interactions, improving perceptions of competence, and may facilitate posttraumatic growth (positive psychological changes resulting from traumatic life experiences). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine how people with Parkinson's experience social interactions and physical challenges in a group physical activity program, and to investigate what role they think those experiences play in posttraumatic growth. The study employed interpretative phenomenological analysis methodology (Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009). N= 20 participants ( n = 12 women; age = 56-79 years) in a boxing-based group exercise program for people with Parkinson's were interviewed. The findings included four collective narratives characterized by (1) finding a safe space in the program; (2) perceiving improvement in symptoms through self-regulation despite loss of control; (3) anxiety relief through shared humor with others who have Parkinson's; and (4) focusing on helping others in lower level classes. The findings of this research may have important implications for how to structure adaptive group physical activity programs for those with Parkinson's disease.