This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Exercise and Fitness After Spinal Cord Injury. Amanda Harrington, M.D., Medical Director, discusses A Range of Fitness Activities.

So you can get a little bit of cardiovascular benefit from any type of movement. So pushing a manual wheelchair itself from day-to-day activities is more active than laying in bed all day. So some people will benefit from just doing extra manual wheelchair pushing; others may benefit from doing more of their day-to-day activities.

So when you’re putting away the dishes and you’re doing some reaching, that in itself can be at least movement that you wouldn’t otherwise be doing. So if someone is able to do something like fold the laundry, to unload the dishwasher, to perhaps carry an item from one side of the room to the other instead of having someone else do it for them, not only does it increase their independence, but it is getting them an opportunity to move more than they would otherwise.

Lynn Worobey, Ph.D., DPT, ATP: So in terms of physical activity, activities of daily living are a great way to be active to some degree. So, if somebody’s going from no activity, just being more a part of those daily activities. So, maybe helping with vacuuming, helping with folding laundry. Those can be ways to start to increase fitness. But it’s kind of a spectrum of fitness, I would say.

So beyond that, it’s also important to do resisted exercises and some cardiovascular work. So something like hand cycling or arm ergometry are great ways to get your heart rate up, improve that cardiovascular fitness. And then things like resisted exercises, whether it’s with a Thera-band, whether you’re lifting weights or hitting the gym. Kind of the combination of those two are what we look for to sort of get towards the other end of the spectrum. There are also things like sports. So it may be that you can join a sports team, so wheelchair basketball or something like that, where you’ve got some kind of regular activity that you’re doing with a group of people or probably more towards the higher fitness end.

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