It is widely accepted fact that even moderate exercise on a regular basis yields many health benefits. That is why people who have spinal cord injury (SCI) are more prone to negative health issues such as elevated cholesterol and blood sugar as well as weight gain. They are also at a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Inactivity may play a significant role in these problems according to the Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center.
Regular physical activity along with proper health precautions and professional guidance can create vast improvements in the overall quality of life for people with SCI. The good news is there are fitness programs available for both weight loss and strength building for all abilities and injury levels.
In addition to the improvement in strength and endurance, research has shown that exercise following spinal cord injury can improve breathing ability, circulation and prevent secondary conditions such as urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers and respiratory infections.
As with all exercise programs, overcoming inertia is the hardest part and that tendency to remain sedentary is greater with SCI. The first thing necessary is determining realistic goals and finding potential resources to help in attaining the desired results.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What exercises are you comfortable with at your current fitness level?
- Are their existing health issues that could interfere with your progress?
- Should you seek the help of a personal trainer, physical therapist or clinical therapist for guidance?
Answering these questions will ensure the exercise program will be a good fit and will help you to avoid injury. Whatever exercise routine you choose, it should include a combination of stretching, aerobics and strength training.
The proper program should be one you enjoy and look forward to. If you view it as a chore it is bound to fail. Before embarking on any fitness program, discuss your plan with your primary care physician and cardiologist, if you have one. Always be alert for serious side effects like irregularities in temperature, heart rate and blood pressure as well as spasticity, skin breakdown and joint strain. If you experience any pain, discomfort, nausea, dizziness, lightheadedness; irregular heartbeat, chest pain shortness of breath or clammy hands – stop exercising and seek medical help immediately.
Which Exercise Program is the Best Fit For You?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends three different adult exercise options:
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week and strength training 2 or more days per week. Strength training should focus on all major muscle groups.
- 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise every week and strength 2 or more days per week focusing on all major muscle groups.
- An equal mix of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise and strength training 2 or more days per week, to work all possible major muscle groups.
Further information is available at the CDC’s Physical Activity Guidelines website.
It is not necessary to carry a costly gym membership to maintain your fitness. It can be done from home, in a park or even at work. The possibilities are boundless and include activities such as yoga, circuit training, handcycling, and weightlifting and exercise bands. For the competitive spirit there are many para sport programs available including basketball, racing, swimming and more.
Do a little investigation for programs in your city or town and consult with professionals and you are sure to create a fitness program that is the perfect road to a healthier and happier you.
Check out these additional resources to aid in your quest for fitness after spinal cord injury:
Exercise After Spinal Cord Injury – Spinal Cord Injury Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center
Exercise Recommendations and Considerations for Persons with Spinal Cord Injury – Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Vititoe Law Group is a personal injury law firm helping victims of spinal cord injury. If you are not sure if you have a spinal cord injury case, contact our law firm and speak to a qualified spinal injury lawyer a no cost to you. We investigate how the accident occurred and how it affected your life. We fight to win you the full and fair compensation you may be entitled to by law. We will be there through the entire legal process to recover compensation for medical and economic losses, and pain and suffering. Reach out to us at 818-991-8900 or contact us online. No recovery – No fee