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Health Implications of Physical Activity in Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury: A Literature Review

Author: BO FERNHALL, KEVIN HEFFERNAN, SAE YOUNG JAE, and BRAD HEDRICK
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 30 No. 4

Physical activity has demonstrated beneficial effects on health
and longevity in the general population, and physically active
individuals are at lower risk for many chronic diseases compared to
their sedentary peers. Individuals with disabilities in general are less
active than individuals without disabilities, but it is still unknown if
physical activity confers the same level of risk reduction in populations
with as without disabilities. Individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI)
have among the lowest levels of physical activity participation
compared to other populations. They also demonstrate early onset of
cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. This literature
review discusses evidence for the potential benefits of physical activity
in persons with SCI and provides a summary of pertinent studies to
date. Although being physically active and physically fit appears to be
associated with several health benefits in persons with SCI, most
studies are small and little longitudinal evidence exists. Future studies
will be needed to address this need.

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