Physical Activity Guidelines
for Adults with Spinal Cord Injury
Physical activity guidelines for adults with spinal cord injury (SCI) have been developed by an international group of SCI scientists, people living with SCI, clinicians, and representatives from SCI organizations. These physical activity guidelines are based on the best scientific evidence available.
The guidelines have two levels: a starting level and an advanced level. Which level you choose depends on your goals, abilities and current fitness level. If you’re just starting a physical activity program, consider working up to the starting level and ideally work up to the advanced level. If you’re already physically active, you might want to begin with the advanced level.
START MEET EXCEED
The starting level is the minimum level of activity needed to achieve fitness benefits.
The advanced level will give you additional fitness and health benefits, such as lowering your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Aerobic activities are physical activities that are done continuously and that increase your heart rate and breathing rate, such as wheeling, swimming, hand cycling or dancing.
Strength-training activities are activities that increase muscle strength, such as exercises using resistance bands, or lifting weights.
Moderate intensity activities require you to work somewhat hard, but you should feel like you can keep going for a long time. You should be able to talk during these activities, but not sing your favourite song.
Vigorous intensity activities require you to work really hard, and you can only continue them for a short time before getting tired.
For more information please visit www.sciguidelines.com
Hoekstra, F., McBride, C.B., Borisoff, J. et al. Translating the international scientific spinal cord injury exercise guidelines into community and clinical practice guidelines: a Canadian evidence-informed resource. Spinal Cord 58, 647–657 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41393-019-0410-1t