Exercise and Health-Related Risks of Physical Deconditioning After Spinal Cord Injury

Jennifer L Maher, David W McMillan, Mark S Nash

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (SciVal)


A sedentary lifestyle occurring soon after spinal cord injury (SCI) may be in contrast to a preinjury history of active physical engagement and is thereafter associated with profound physical deconditioning sustained throughout the lifespan. This physical deconditioning contributes in varying degrees to lifelong medical complications, including accelerated cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, osteopenia, and visceral obesity. Unlike persons without disability for whom exercise is readily available and easily accomplished, exercise options for persons with SCI are more limited. Depending on the level of injury, the metabolic responses to acute exercise may also be less robust than those accompanying exercise in persons without disability, the training benefits more difficult to achieve, and the risks of ill-considered exercise both greater and potentially irreversible. For exercise to ultimately promote benefit and not impose additional impairment, an understanding of exercise opportunities and risks if exercise is undertaken by those with SCI is important. The following monograph will thus address common medical challenges experienced by persons with SCI and typical modes and benefits of voluntary exercise conditioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-187
Number of pages13
JournalTopics in spinal cord injury rehabilitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Exercise/physiology
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Physical Fitness/physiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Spinal Cord Injuries/physiopathology


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