Original research| Volume 97, ISSUE 10, P1721-1727, October 2016

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

Published:March 04, 2016DOI:



      To assess the relations between measures of activity with dyspnea and satisfaction with life in chronic spinal cord injury (SCI).


      Cross-sectional survey.


      Five SCI centers.


      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.


      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.


      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).


      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.


      List of abbreviations:

      AIS (ASIA Impairment Scale), BMI (body mass index), COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), OR (odds ratio), SCI (spinal cord injury), SWLS (Satisfaction with Life Scale)
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