​Importance of exercising every day while living with a spinal cord injury

Posted by Garrison Redd in Life After Paralysis on June 08, 2021 # Exercise

wheelchair on a trackWhile exercise is important for all individuals, it is especially important for individuals living with a spinal cord injury. This is because exercise can prevent the onset of other illnesses that can occur when you live with a spinal cord injury, such as urinary tract infections (UTI), high blood pressure, pressure sores, and many other potential complications.

From personal experience, I can confirm exercise does work. At the initial onset of my injury (I am a t-12 paraplegic incomplete), I struggled to gain weight. I often would not have an appetite, and I would consistently get reoccurring UTIs. This was an ongoing issue for the first 5 years of being a para. I would try home remedies to resolve these issues, and each time, I had no success.

One day I woke up and decided to sign up for a gym membership. I was fortunate that the gym was located right across the street from my home. It was a short distance for me to roll. I choose to roll over driving because I felt if you are going to be active, you have to go all the way. I believe it is very important to go at your own pace. On my first day at the gym, I only spent about 15 minutes there. For the first two weeks, I didn’t go past 30 minutes. We often rush the experience, which leads to us not wanting to go back due to soreness. I want to encourage whoever is reading this to go with someone for your first few sessions. This will help you with transferring depending on your level of ability. It can be a challenge for us because most gyms aren’t very accessible.

As your endurance builds up and you begin to brainstorm ways you can configure certain equipment, you will begin to stay longer. You do not have to go to the gym when it comes to working out. You can work out at your house, and it can be just as beneficial. After a few weeks of working out, I started to see improvements in my appetite, which helped me go from 116 pounds to 119 pounds. For me, that was a tremendous accomplishment because I had been weighing 116 pounds or less for about 5 years. I struggled with and had ongoing issues with urinary tract infections for a long time. But after a month at the gym, I no longer had to worry about that infection.

Currently, after all of my training, I am a Team USA para-powerlifter. I aspire to represent the country in the Paralympic games. I haven’t had a UTI in 3 years, and I am barely on any very important medication. Exercise also positively impacted my mental health, which is just as important as my physical health.

I have videos on YouTube, @Garrisonredd providing tips and ways you can train from a seated position. Thank you for taking the time to read.

My name is Garrison Redd. I am a T-12 paraplegic born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I am searchable under Garrison Redd on Youtube or @GarrisonRedd on Instagram and Facebook. As well as you can visit my website thegarrisonreddproject.org and you can send me a message on Reeve Connect Garrison Redd or email. I hope everybody stays safe and strong.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.