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Brittany Martin

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Weights or Cardio?

Online Exclusive posted Monday, May 1, 2017 - 3:12pm

When it comes to exercising with spinal-cord injury or disease, what's more important, endurance or strength training?

Strengthening refers to increasing muscular power and mass, which also improves the body’s metabolism. We need strength to perform our daily activities.

Improving strength requires muscles to be put under more strain than they’re accustomed to, which will stimulate protein growth inside the cells. This tends to be done in shorter bouts of exercise with weights, and recovery is important. A day of rest after a day of strengthening exercise will help the muscles increase mass.

Endurance training, also called cardiovascular exercise, refers to using several groups of muscles to increase the heart rate for a prolonged period of time. Good examples are pushing your wheelchair, cycling, playing sports, etc. These exercises promote oxygen delivery to the body, which keeps the muscles, nerves and brain healthy. They also improve heart and lung function.

Both Are Best

The answer to which form of exercise is more important is that both of them are key for good health.

Strengthening exercise helps maintain as much independence as possible. Weakness can impact the ability to transfer from a wheelchair or do basic activities independently.

Strength training is also a way to maintain your weight, as added pounds can certainly impact mobility. It also strengthens the muscles of the rotator cuffs to decrease overuse injuries of the shoulder and strengthens core muscles to decrease back pain — common occurrences among people using wheelchairs. Performing this type of exercise three times per week is recommended.

Cardiovascular exercise is important to decrease the risk of or manage health complications such as hypertension or diabetes, which can lead to strokes or heart attacks if not controlled. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of endurance training, six days per week. 


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Weights or Cardio?


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