Study design:A prospective cohort study. Objectives:To study the longitudinal relationship between objectively measured everyday physical activity level, and physical fitness and lipid profile in persons with a recent spinal cord injury (SCI).Setting:A rehabilitation centre in the Netherlands and the participant's home environment. Methods:Data of 30 persons with a recent SCI were collected at the start of active rehabilitation, 3 months later, at discharge from inpatient rehabilitation, and 1 year after discharge. Physical activity level (duration of dynamic activities as % of 24 h) was measured with an accelerometry-based activity monitor. Regarding physical fitness, peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak) and peak power output (POpeak) were determined with a maximal wheelchair exercise test, and upper extremity muscle strength was measured with a handheld dynamometer. Fasting blood samples were taken to determine the lipid profile. Results:An increase in physical activity level was significantly related to an increase in VO2peak and POpeak, and an increase in physical activity level favourably affected the lipid profile. A nonsignificant relation was found with muscle strength. Conclusion:Everyday physical activity seems to have an important role in the fitness and health of persons with a recent SCI. An increase in physical activity level was associated with an increase in physical fitness and with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.Spinal Cord advance online publication, 6 December 2011; doi:10.1038/sc.2011.152.

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Keywords accelerometry, cardiovascular disease, physical activity, physical fitness, spinal cord injury
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Nooijen, C.F.J, de Groot, S, Postma, K, Bergen, M.P, Stam, H.J, Bussmann, J.B.J, & van den Berg-Emons, H.J.G. (2011). A more active lifestyle in persons with a recent spinal cord injury benefits physical fitness and health. Spinal Cord, 1–4. doi:10.1038/sc.2011.152