Investigating the type, intensity, and duration of activities of daily living as a potential avenue for increasing physical activity participation among people with spinal cord injury


Background: Despite the benefits of physical activity, most people with spinal cord injury (SCI) are insufficiently active to achieve fitness benefits. While most SCI and physical activity research has focused on leisure-time physical activity, few studies have examined activities of daily living (ADL). Purpose: To describe and compare 1) self-reported intensities and durations of specific ADL, and 2) minutes/day spent on ADL across key demographic groups. Methods: Participants were 695 adults with SCI (76% men, Mage=46.81±13.41, Myears-post-injury=15.19±11.10). ADL were assessed over the telephone using the Physical Activity Recall Assessment for People with SCI. MANOVAs were computed to test for differences in intensities and durations of different ADL (objective 1) and between-group differences in min/day of ADL (objective 2). Results: Overall, participants reported 127.92+142.79 minutes/day of ADL with significantly more time spent in mild intensity (78.93+104.62 minutes/day) than moderate (40.23+68.71 minutes/day) or heavy intensity ADL (8.75+24.53 minutes/day). Four patterns emerged with respect to ADL type, duration, and intensity, with some ADL being typically performed at lighter, or heavier, intensities than others. There were significant differences in minutes/day of ADL intensity and duration between groups based on education, injury severity, and mode of mobility (ps < 0.05). Conclusion: Given that some groups were more likely to engage in moderate-heavy intensity ADL, and some ADL are more likely to be performed at moderate-heavy intensities, interventions that target key groups to engage in specific ADL (e.g., wheeling) may be one strategy to enhance physical activity participation among people with SCI.