Feeling Good: Exercising with Spinal Cord Injury - Frank Findley
|Image of author in Pontoon Boat|
I incorporate various types of exercise into my life, including a regular indoor workout on a BowFlex VersaTrainer Wheelchair Exerciser (http://www.ncpad.org/17/Equipment/2053) and a NUStep http://www.ncpad.org/17/Equipment/2072). I work out on the BowFlex three times per week for about 45 minutes each session. I first started using this equipment in June of 2002 while at the Shepherd Center, and decided to purchase one so that I could continue my exercise program on my own. The therapists at the Shepherd Center showed me how I could use one independently at home, and I've been using it ever since. My routine includes exercises for the back and shoulders including a rowing exercise, triceps dip, and reverse sit-up. For the front of my body, I do a bicep curl, bench press, and pectoral fly (forward and reverse). I also ride the NUStep machine for aerobic exercise for 70 minutes every day. I power the machine using my arms, but my feet are on the pedals so my legs get movement at the same time. This has greatly improved my cardiovascular fitness.
Swimming was an activity that my wife, our three children and I had participated in regularly for years, so I wanted to get back in the water and again, and did so in 2005. We do this in local Lake Santeetlah in Graham County, North Carolina. I transfer in and out of the water from my pontoon boat via a net and a lift that a friend of mine built out of heavy aluminum and stainless steel for a cost of about $550. The lift is battery-powered with a small electric winch, though there is also a hand crank winch like those used to winch boats onto boat trailers. It lifts me out of the wheelchair, manually swings me out over the side of the boat, and then lowers me into the water to swim or into the 2 person open-top kayak that my wife and I enjoy paddling around the scenic lake together.
I first experienced kayaking at a program offered through the Shepherd Center called the Adventures Skills Workshop that takes place in May of each year in Jackson's Gap, Alabama (http://www.shepherd.org/resources). My wife attends this with me as well since the camp is for individuals with a disability, with or without members of his or her family. Other outdoor activities include jet-skiing, zip lines, scuba diving, and many others. As soon as I completed the first workshop (literally, while I was still on-site!), I bought a kayak from a boat dealer who provided boats for the course. I find kayaking very enjoyable and something I can enjoy with my wife in a beautiful setting.
All of the exercise in my life has made me stronger, more agile, and has increased my stamina a great deal. However, the best effects of my exercise are the mental lifts. "It makes me feel good!"