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Online program aims to improve fitness levels Mar 27, 2012

People living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other health complications. They’re encouraged to get exercise, but often there’s no health and fitness centre close by to support their unique needs, especially in remote or rural areas of Canada.

“We know that physical activity is a good thing and it’s especially important for people with an SCI to be as active as possible,” says Dr. Dalton Wolfe at the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ont. “But it’s difficult to stay fit without the right support.”

Enter the Online Physical Activity and Nutritional Counselling (OPAN) study. With support from the Rick Hansen Institute, Dr. Dalton Wolfe and his team (including SCI Action Canada) are working to see if a web-based fitness program can increase physical participation levels among those living with an SCI.

OPAN involves in-home exercise classes geared to one’s mobility and injury. Via video conference, an experienced fitness trainer leads the seated-aerobics program, which includes sessions in flexibility and deep breathing. The small initial study has now been expanded with more participants.

“[The study] is about empowering people to manage their own lives better,” says Dr. Wolfe. “If this works, we hope to expand the services and find a way to sustain an ongoing program.”

Note - story taken from the Rick Hansen Foundation newsletter (click link for original source).