2. CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE is the third leading cause
of death in people with spinal cord injury (SCI).
How to manage coronary heart disease if you have an SCI:
• Stop Smoking
• Decrease LDL and Increase HDL Cholesterol
• Control Blood Pressure
• Maintain Healthy Weight
• Get Physical Activity at Least Three Days a Week
• Manage Diabetes
3. Maintain a Healthy Diet
• Choose low-fat, 1 percent or non-fat dairy products, including milk
• Eat seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, two to three 3-ounce servings
• Add more beans, peas and lentils, which are great sources or protein
without saturated fat.
• Substitute packaged snack foods with nuts and seeds. This will cut the
trans fats and increase healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fats.
• Use fats and oils sparingly. Choose coconut or olive oil for cooking
and use real butter when needed instead of margarine.
• Reduce sodium in your diet
• Eat more plant-based and natural foods.
• Reduce saturated fats intake, limit fat to 25-35% of diet.
4. Processed foods include:
• Canned foods - soups, stews, sauces, gravy mixes and
• Frozen foods - dinners, entrees, vegetables with sauces
• Snack foods - salted chips, popcorn, pretzels, pork rinds
• Packaged starchy foods - seasoned noodle or rice dishes,
stuffing mix, macaroni and cheese dinners, instant
• Mixes - cornbread, biscuit, cake, pudding
• Cheeses - read food labels and avoid those with more
than 140 mg of sodium per serving (American cheese,
Velveeta, Cheez Whiz, etc.)
• Meats - potted meats, spreads, Spam, Vienna sausage,
deli or lunch meats (bologna, ham, turkey, roast beef, etc),
cured or smoked meats (corned beef, sausage of any kind,
wieners, hot dogs), bacon
5. Improve your MENTAL HEALTH and MOOD
Regular physical activity can help keep
your thinking, learning and judgment
skills SHARP as you age. It can also
reduce your risk of depression and
may help you sleep better.
Research has shown that doing
aerobic or a mix of aerobic and
muscle-strengthening activities three
to five times a week for 30 to 60
minutes can give you these mental
6. Get Regular EXERCISE
Aerobic Exercise (Cardio): Three to four times
weekly for 30 to 45 minutes. Strive to reach 60
to 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
Types of cardio exercise including WALKING,
cycling, boxing, water aerobics and fitness
Resistance Training (weight and strength
training): Two times per week. Pick one
exercise for each body group (upper extremity,
core, lower extremity) and complete three sets
of 10 repetitions. Examples include: BICEP
CURLS, tricep extensions and push-ups for the
upper extremities; abdominal CRUNCHES,
planks and oblique crunches for the body core;
and squats, hamstring curls with glute kicks and
calf raises for the lower extremities.
9. STAY BUSY
Stay busy. Get back out in the community
Have a to-do list,
rather than just
getting up to an
10. Stay involved with PEOPLE.
Build a support network. This
might include going to a peer
support group, getting involved
with a wheelchair sports team or
some other activity that maintains
contact with others who use
wheelchairs, especially if they
have been using the chair for a
long time. Stay involved with old
friends who are a positive
influence, and take the initiative
with asking them to come over to
visit and help out. Educate them
about spinal cord injury.
11. Stay GOAL-DRIVEN
Come up with short-term and long-term GOALS.
Work toward them, especially things that
continue to build a sense of PURPOSE in life.