Active Lifestyle Is Associated With Reduced Dyspnea and Greater Life Satisfaction in Spinal Cord Injury

Eric Garshick, Sara Mulroy, Daniel E. Graves, Karen Greenwald, John A. Horton, Leslie R. Morse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the relations between measures of activity with dyspnea and satisfaction with life in chronic spinal cord injury (SCI). Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: Five SCI centers. Participants: Between July 2012 and March 2015, subjects (N=347) with traumatic SCI ≥1 year after injury who used a manual wheelchair or walked with or without an assistive device reported hours spent away from home or yard on the previous 3 days, sports participation, and planned exercise. Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measures: Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS) and dyspnea. Dyspnea was defined as shortness of breath when hurrying on the level or going up a slight hill, going slower than people the same age on the level because of breathlessness, or stopping for breath when going at your own pace, or after about 100yd (or after a few minutes) on the level. Results: Dyspnea prevalence was 30%. Adjusting for asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, mobility mode, race, and season, there was a significant linear trend between greater SWLS scores and quartiles of time spent away from the home or yard (P=.0002). SWLS score was greater if participating in organized sports (P=.01), although was not significantly greater with planned exercise (P=.093). Planned exercise was associated with a reduced odds ratio (OR) of dyspnea (.57; 95% confidence interval [CI],.34–.95; P=.032), but organized sports was not (P=.265). Dyspnea was not significantly increased in persons who spent the fewest hours outside their home or yard (≤7h) compared with people who spent the most hours outside their home or yard (>23h) (OR=1.69; 95% CI, 0.83–3.44; P=.145). Conclusions: In SCI, a planned exercise program is associated with less dyspnea. An active lifestyle characterized by greater time spent away from home or yard and sports participation is associated with greater SWLS scores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1721-1727
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (grant no. 90SI5007); the Merit Review (award no. B6618R); the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service (grant no. I01 RX000792); and the National Institutes of Health (grant no. AR059270).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine


  • Exercise
  • Quality of life
  • Rehabilitation
  • Spinal cord injuries


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