Perceptions of Leisure-time Physical Activity for People Living with Disabilities amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic in the City of Cape Town, South Africa

Asemahle Mkwelo1
, Karabo Shai1
, Siphokuhle Madide1
, Engel Mahlalela1
, Phindile Malema1
, Makhaya Malema1, *

1 Department of Sport, Recreation & Exercise Science, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, Cape Town 7535, South Africa

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© 2023 Mkwelo et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Sports, Recreation & Exercise Science, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, Cape Town 7535, South Africa; Tel: +27 21 959 2245; E-mail:



Leisure time physical activity is an essential part of taking care of the body and the mind. It assists in keeping our bodies healthy and functioning. However, COVID-19 challenged the community’s ability to engage in leisure time physical activity.


The aim of this study was to explore and describe the perceptions of leisure-time physical activity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in the City of Cape Town for people with disabilities.


The study was conducted using a descriptive qualitative research design, making use of semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions. The study used a purposive sampling technique to recruit participants from NGOs’ in the City of Cape Town townships, which caters to people with disabilities. Eight participants were recruited and interviewed for this study. The participants were free and voluntarily to participate in the study, were able to withdraw from the study at any time, and were made aware of their rights.


The study reported two themes which are leisure time physical activity during and post COVID-19 and leisure time physical activity support to advance participation. Results have shown that the participants had different perceptions of leisure time physical activity and they engaged in different leisure time physical activities of their own understanding. The challenges people with disabilities experienced were similar during and post the COVID-19 pandemic and they included a lack of facilities and financial support.


The COVID-19 pandemic had a psychological and physical impact on the participants and more resources need to be made available to advance leisure time physical activity for people with disabilities.

Keywords: Inclusion, Leisure, LTPA, COVID-19, People with disabilities, Physical activity.