The Veterans Department estimates that nearly 300,000 people in the United States have some form of spinal cord injury. The majority of these injuries happen to people between the ages of 16 and 30 — people who have entire lifetimes ahead of them.
If you have a spinal cord injury, you don’t want to settle for a sedentary life. You want to stay active, healthy and fit. And exercising can have a number of benefits. Those who exercise tend to have:
- Greater muscle strength and stamina
- Better circulation and breathing
- A lower risk of developing diabetes, less body fat and more self-esteem
- Improved immune-system function
Exercising can also lower your risk of developing secondary conditions such as pressure sores and urinary tract infections.
Of course, you want to talk with your doctor and physical therapist, who can help you develop a fitness routine and nutrition plan that meet your specific needs. With your doctor’s OK, your routine should include stretching, cardiovascular exercise and muscle development. The routine will depend largely on your level of injury. If your injury is a C1 to C4, breathing exercises — along with neck and shoulder exercises — can be very beneficial. Those with C4 and C5 injuries can exercise with elastic bands. Many of those with C6 to C8 injuries are able to use gym equipment.
It is essential for you to set personal goals, maintain a sense of purpose and to stay motivated. Phoenix provides a number of activities for those with spinal cord injuries. Arizona Disabled Sports and the Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association offer sports and recreational activities. And the Barrow Neurological Institute has an annual Day on the Lake with jet skiing, fishing, kayaking and more.
Having a spinal cord injury does not mean a boring life, especially if you live in Arizona. For more information about mobility equipment and fitness activities, contact Power Mobility and Lifts, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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