Poor glucose tolerance (a precursor for diabetes) is relatively common in people with spinal cord injury. Muscle, which is heavily involved in glucose disposal and transport, becomes atrophied after spinal cord injury-thus leaving less muscle tissue left to respond to glucose. Additionally, the reduced level of physical activity common after spinal cord injury increases fasting glucose.
A recent study of 25 spinal cord injury patients found that increased physical activity improves glucose tolerance-independent of size and area of injury. It is important to note that, although formal exercise improved glucose tolerance, non-exercise-related activity such as housework or errands also contributed to this improvement.
Raymond J, Harner AR, Temesi J, & van Kemenade C. Glucose tolerance and physical activity in people with spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord. (August 2010).