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Publication: SpeciaLiving Magazine
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 91811
ISSN: 15370747
Journal code: SPLV

Early in the morning you hear the alarm go off. You have two choices., hit snooze or get out of bed to exercise. You think of the emails you have to check, errands to run and a hundred other excuses not to exercise. Are you like many people who put on weight due to the inactivity of your disability? You know the rewards of exercise such as lowering your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer as well as managing your level of stress, anxiety and pain. You know it will improve your level of independence. You know that health risks are higher in people with physical disabilities, largely due to a less active lifestyle. But do you put exercise on your to-do list only to have it become unfulfilled for weeks, months or even years?

Is it fear that keeps you from exercising? Will you be judged at the gym, will people stare, does a nagging pain such as shoulder pain keep you from starting a program? Did you know the right kind of exercise could prevent the onset of shoulder pain and decrease it in those who unfortunately know it's impact.

"I hear a lot of people say that they get their cardio workout from pushing their wheelchair, which is great but it's just not enough. When pushing your wdieelchair, trans ferring or walking with a walker, you are using all the same muscles on the front of your shoulders and chest. These muscles get stronger and tighter which pulls your shoulder blades forward and increases the risk of shoulder injury," said Kristin McNealus PT of Long Beach California and founder of SCI Total Fitness.

Julio is a self-proclaimed ladies man who loves to make people laugh. He wheels into the gym with hip hop music blaring on the speakers. His positive attitude draw others to him immediately. High fives, smiles and chatter with familiar faces begins an hour of self paced group lead exercise that is aimed at all seated participants and is adaptable for people with leg mobility. Dr McNealus leads the group to an upbeat, fun cardio experience.

Julio; who has a complete T10 injury from a fall in 2009 regularly attends classes such as cardio and sports. "It's easy to gain weight sitting down. I didn't want to gain any more weight and I just like to stay active, it feels good to work out! If I stay at home, I just find myself doing nothing and being lazy. I have friends who are waiting for me at a class. We know our limits and we can push each other. I don't feel self conscious in the class."

Julio also reaches out to the community through a local hospital sports class where he helps newly injured patients and those who have mastered the art of wheelchair sports.

"We play a different wheelchair sport each week so we can remain active and have a blast."

Bertha, a quiet woman with a warm smile prefers group workouts for motivation. "The commitment of a class at a certain time holds me accountable." As a C-5 incomplete, she welcomes tne opportunity to attend an exercise program since her job is inactive. She finds it important to go to classes designed for participants with similar challenges that meets her budget. Working full time does not always allow for the time to work out regularly so she sets a modest goal of once a week. She also works out online when time does not permit her to make it to the gym.

What works for you? A selfpaced, solitary workout for meditation and stress relief, a group class taught at a gym or online, an adaptive gym or working with a trainer? The choice is yours, just get moving.

Author affiliation:

by Jennifer Romans RN

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