Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology

First Advisor

Linda Lamont


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a surfing intervention on the strength, flexibility, cardiorespiratory endurance, and range of motion of children with disabilities.

METHODS: Seventeen participants ages 5-17 years, were recruited from the University of Rhode Island Adapted Physical Education Program, Special Olympics Rhode Island and through word-of-mouth. This was an 8-week pilot study with a descriptive study design that used pre and post-testing measurements. Pre-test measurements were taken from the Brockport Physical Fitness Test and included strength (mean±SD; modified curl-ups: 16±17 repetitions; grip strength left: 120.52N± 52.76N; right: 120.03N± 70.61N), flexibility (Back Saver sit-and-reach 11 in.±6.78 in.; trunk lift: 9.19in.± 2.71in.), cardiorespiratory endurance (20-m PACER: 4 laps±4 laps), and range of motion (Modified Apleys Scratch Test left: 12.5º±8.60º; right: 10.82º±7.65º). Pre-test measurements were also taken from the Berg Balance scale measuring balance (49± 7.96). The goal of each hour surf lesson was to teach the participants how to paddle in the water, balance on their board, and ride a wave on the board progressing from laying, to kneeling, to standing. RESULTS: We found significant improvements in strength (modified sit-ups: 27±24 (P=0.002); grip strength left: 219.67N.± 177.99N. (P=0.024); right 225.55N± 184.07N (P=0.022)), flexibility (Modified Apley’s Scratch: 14º±7.38º (P=0.024)) and cardiorespiratory endurance (20-m PACER 6 laps± 6 laps (P=0.013)).

CONCLUSION: These results showed that there is an overall improvement in upper body strength and cardiorespiratory endurance in these participants. Further research is needed to discern the physiological effectiveness of surfing programs as an alternate exercise modality for children with disabilities.