Increasing Physical Activity Participation

It is generally accepted that physical activity is associated with numerous physical and psychological benefits for both the able-bodied and for persons with SCI. The previous section outlined numerous investigations providing evidence that various forms of physical activity and exercise programming are effective for a variety of SCI-related issues. Recently, the Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults with Spinal Cord Injury (Martin Ginis et al. 2011) were released. These guidelines suggest two sessions of aerobic activity and two sessions of resistance training per week. They also provide information regarding duration, intensity and physical activity examples.

There are few studies that are directed towards investigating interventions that are designed to increase participation in physical activity and also that provide the background information needed to effectively design these interventions. Even though it seems obvious and is generally assumed that participation in physical activity is severely limited in persons with SCI, the research base on existing levels of physical activity participation and the specific barriers that persons with SCI must overcome to participate is lacking.

It should be noted that determining participation levels and investigations of barriers to participation are not amenable to experimental investigation and typically do not involve an intervention, and therefore comprise subject areas which are typically not addressed according to SCIRE methodology. However, descriptions of the observational studies examining participation levels and barriers to participation are included here as an understanding of these factors is critical for rehabilitation care providers and health promoters to successfully develop and apply physical activity-promoting interventions directed toward persons with SCI. Finally, the effectiveness of interventions that promote physical activity participation of persons with SCI is assessed from the existing literature.