Maintenance of exercise participation in individuals with spinal cord injury: effects on quality of life, stress and pain

Spinal Cord. 2003 Aug;41(8):446-50. doi: 10.1038/


Study design: Follow-up study of seven individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) who completed a 9-month randomized control trial (RCT) of exercise training.

Objective: In a 9-month RCT conducted in our lab, individuals with SCI who participated in a twice-weekly supervised exercise training reported greater perceived quality of life (PQOL), and less stress and pain than a nonexercising control cohort. The present follow-up study examined the voluntary continuation of exercise training after the study ended and the persistence of the accrued psychosocial benefits.

Setting: Centre for Health Promotion and Rehabilitation, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Methods: Five men and two women (age 42.3+/-3.6 years) with SCI (C5-T12; ASIA A-D 12.7+/-8.2 years postinjury) were invited to continue supervised exercise training twice weekly at the completion of the 9-month RCT. Exercise adherence, PQOL, stress and bodily pain were measured at a 3-month follow-up and were compared to values obtained at baseline, and at 3, 6 and 9 months during the intervention.

Results: There was a significant decrease in adherence at the 3-month follow-up compared to the overall 9-month adherence rate (42.7 versus 80.6%, respectively; P<0.01). There was also a significant decrease in PQOL (P<0.05) and a trend for increased pain (P=0.07) and stress (P=0.12), at follow-up compared to the end of the 9-month trial. Finally, there was a significant negative correlation between pain at the conclusion of the RCT and exercise adherence over the 3-month follow-up period (r=-0.91; P<0.01).

Conclusions: These findings emphasize the importance of continued exercise adherence to the maintenance of exercise-related increases in psychological well-being among individuals with SCI.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain / rehabilitation
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / psychology*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation
  • Stress, Physiological / psychology*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / injuries