A more active lifestyle in persons with a recent spinal cord injury benefits physical fitness and health

Spinal Cord. 2012 Apr;50(4):320-3. doi: 10.1038/sc.2011.152. Epub 2011 Dec 6.


Study design: A prospective cohort study.

Objectives: To study the longitudinal relationship between objectively measured everyday physical activity level, and physical fitness and lipid profile in persons with a recent spinal cord injury (SCI).

Setting: A rehabilitation centre in the Netherlands and the participant's home environment.

Methods: Data of 30 persons with a recent SCI were collected at the start of active rehabilitation, 3 months later, at discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, and 1 year after discharge. Physical activity level (duration of dynamic activities as % of 24 h) was measured with an accelerometry-based activity monitor. Regarding physical fitness, peak oxygen uptake (VO(2)peak) and peak power output (POpeak) were determined with a maximal wheelchair exercise test, and upper extremity muscle strength was measured with a handheld dynamometer. Fasting blood samples were taken to determine the lipid profile.

Results: An increase in physical activity level was significantly related to an increase in VO(2)peak and POpeak, and an increase in physical activity level favourably affected the lipid profile. A nonsignificant relation was found with muscle strength.

Conclusion: Everyday physical activity seems to have an important role in the fitness and health of persons with a recent SCI. An increase in physical activity level was associated with an increase in physical fitness and with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / classification*
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exercise Therapy* / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / epidemiology
  • Spinal Cord Injuries / rehabilitation*