University of Bath

Do you have a spinal cord injury? Help us understand the importance of exercise for your health

Get a free health check by taking part in our study on how various intensities of exercise can have an impact on nutrient handling after a meal.

Researcher doing research on health and fitness of wheelchair users using a specially designed treadmill.
Upper body exercise of different intensities can affect how people with spinal cord injuries are able to dispose of the glucose and fat they consume

What we're doing

People with a spinal cord injury (SCI) are at an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. While we know that exercise can help prevent these conditions, we need to understand how exercise of different intensities can help with nutrient handling after a meal.

These responses are vital as people spend the majority of their waking day in a post-meal state, with post-meal blood responses indicating long-term risk of developing high blood fat and glucose levels. This research is novel as it is the first to determine how exercise can impact these responses in people with a SCI. If we can identify an exercise intensity that sufficiently reduces these blood responses, we can better inform exercise recommendations for people with a SCI.

Take part

To be eligible, you must:

  • be between 18 and 65 years old
  • have a complete or incomplete SCI below T6 and more than one year post-injury
  • not currently be exercising regularly

What's involved

You will need to visit the University of Bath on four separate occasions.

On your first visit, we will collect some baseline measurements including running a fitness assessment. We will then give you a small physical activity monitor to wear for a week to check you are able to participate. This visit will last approximately three hours.

On the following three visits, we will ask you to perform different bouts of arm-cranking exercise, all of which will be followed by a meal tolerance test whilst you rest in bed. Each of these visits will last approximately eight hours. You might want to bring your favourite book or films to these sessions.

What you'll get

Participants who are eligible and complete the full requirements of the study will receive:

  • individualised feedback regarding their cardiovascular fitness and physical activity levels, blood tests results (e.g. cholesterol, glucose, and insulin), and resting energy requirements
  • reimbursement of travel expenses
  • a monetary reward of £210 on completion of all four study visits as a thank you for taking part

To take part, email Matt Farrow m.t.farrow@bath.ac.uk

Professor James Bilzon, who is leading this research, explains: "Following a spinal cord injury (SCI), humans are three to four times more likely to experience premature cardiovascular and metabolic disease such as heart disease or diabetes."

"We know that exercise can have a therapeutic role in preventing or managing these conditions, but we also believe that higher intensity exercise protocols may help maximise these benefits, while providing a time-efficient approach to regular exercise participation. Importantly, we need to understand how different intensities of upper body exercise can modify how efficiently people with SCI are able to dispose of the nutrients (i.e. primarily glucose and fat) they consume."