“The human body is not meant to sit for long periods of time. During the day alternate between sitting, standing, and walking, or get up and stretch often,” says HealthCoach. David Agus, Lance Armstrong’s oncologist, wrote a best seller called “The End of Illness” and he agrees. He writes tips on how to prevent disease.“As Americans we don’t move around enough, most people go to the gym for an hour, go back to their office, sit at their desk jobs for hours, and they think that is enough.” “The problem is most people, when sitting at our desk jobs, sit for hours at a time and don’t move around enough,” Dr. Agus says. “Every hour you should move, even if for no reason, get away from your desk, find a reason to get up,” he advises. This was one of the first on his list to prevent illness such as cancer. He also talks about eating healthier, hard boiled eggs, fish, vegetable oil, the natural stuff.
What if you’re spinal cord injured? What if you can’t get up so easily? What if you can’t stand? What if you can’t walk? What if you can’t even sit for long periods of time, or get out of a wheelchair without someone assisting you? I believe any movement is good movement to start. Whether it’s a transfer from your wheelchair to your bed, or using the hand cycling machine at physical therapy, or standing for several minutes at a time in a standing frame, it gets your heart pumping, your blood flowing, and you’re moving. As you train your body to move with help, and hopefully eventually without, to transfer, to sit for longer periods, to stand, to walk, whatever you are able to do, it gets stronger. Over time you can become more independent.
Just be safe. When I practice with one cane, I’m almost always with my physical therapist. When I’m doing it at home, I try my best to be safe. I used to hold two canes, with the right one in the air just in case I lost my balance. Now I use one. It’s crucial for someone with paralysis to move, because they don’t do it easily on a daily basis. I believe it’s even more important for us, to get up. Dr. Agus’ advice applies to all of us, those with and without physical challenges.
For those who cannot move their hands, feet, or fingers even, it can be much harder to get up, or even feel motivated to move. My feet are weak because my s1/s2 nerves still have some damage. I can push my feet down, but that is a recent muscle that has come back the last couple years. It’s harder to pull my foot up against gravity. Throughout the day I’m wearing AFOs (ankle braces) to assist my walking.
With a spinal cord injury, you can exercise for years and years, and not fully recover. Or you can exercise for a few years, and gain a lot of recovery. It depends on different factors, your level of injury, the nature of your injury, and your faith. Exercise and movement not only improve health, but can help you regain function. The number one factor is you. It starts with you.
Now go get up!