Effects of Resistance and Endurance Training in Persons with Paraplegia
People with spinal cord injury have a higher risk of obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, and higher levels of inactivity. This study sought to compare the effects of a 12-week program in resistance training to that of a 12-week program in endurance training for people with spinal cord injury paraplegia in the areas of VO2peak, upper-extremity strength, and power output.
The study included a total of 18 participants, 12 male and 6 female, with paraplegia. All participants were healthy and were not taking any medications that might interfere with the results.
Participants were given a Graded Exercise Test before and after the 12-week session. They were randomly assigned into either the resistance (RT) or endurance group (ET). Each group completed a 12-week training session that included 3 meetings per week. In the endurance group, participants performed 30 minutes of arm cranking exercise per session, at a pace that placed them at 75%-80% of their peak heart rate. Those in the resistance group performed 3 sets of 10 repetitions of six various strength exercises, including overhead press, horizontal press, seated dips, and others. The amount of weight used was based on a 1RM assessment, and weight was increased each week.
Both the resistance and endurance groups showed great improvements in their physiological fitness levels. There was a significant increase in VO2peak in both groups as well, an increase of 15.1% in the RT group and 11.8% in the ET group. There was an increase of 8% in mean power for the RT group and 5% for the ET group; however, this increase was not statistically significant between the two groups. While the RT group showed significant increase in upper-extremity strength, there was no increase for those in the ET group.
Participation in resistance training can benefit those with spinal cord injury paraplegia. It can increase cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, and power, which assist in performing activities of daily living and promote a healthy lifestyle.