Exercising At Home With SCI

Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via NorCal SCI
NorCal SCI
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

“People with SCI face tremendous physical, psychosocial, and environmental barriers to physical activity; they are less active and physically deconditioned than the general population and people with other disabilities,” says NorCal SCI. They share the Physical Activity Guidelines after SCI (read below) as well as two resources for at home exercise options.

Ben, wheelchair user, holding exercise band

“Overwhelming evidence suggests that people living with SCI can achieve health benefits from activity levels well below the generally recommended 150 min/week threshold.”

Physical Activity Guidelines After SCI

The Physical Activity Guidelines after SCI was developed by a group led by Dr. Kathleeen Martin Ginis at the University of British Columbia and Dr. Victoria Goosey-Tolfrey at Loughborough University, UK. The team reviewed relevant literature and held consensus meetings to develop international guidelines on physical activity after SCI. 

The guidelines are most appropriate for adults aged 18-64 with chronic SCI (at least 1 year post-onset, neurological level C3 or below), from traumatic or non-traumatic causes, paraplegic or quadriplegic.

The Physical Activity Guidelines after SCI are as follows: 

  • For cardiorespiratory fitness and muscle strength benefits, adults with SCI should engage in:

— Engage in at least 20 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic exercise 2 times per week
— 3 sets of strength exercises for each major functioning muscle group, at a moderate to vigorous intensity, 2 times per week.

  • For cardiometabolic health benefits, adults with SCI are suggested to engage in:

— At least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise 3 times per week.

Resources For Exercising At Home

NorCal SCI gives two resources to help when exercising at home. The first resource is Adapt to Perform. Ben Clark, a quadriplegic, shares different workout routines on his YouTube channel as well as live interviews from other people with disabilities.

NorCal SCI also recommends SCI Action Canada’s Active Home which has online videos for both quadriplegics and paraplegics. They also provide a 32-page guide with pictures of many types of exercises that can be done in a wheelchair using stretch bands.

Be sure to share this post with someone you believe could benefit from these resources!

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