Circuit Training Helps Stroke Patients

by Ryan Halvorson on May 21, 2013

Making News

According to a report from the British Medical Journal (2012; 344; doi:, 25%–74% of the world’s 50 million stroke survivors require assistance or are fully dependent on caregivers. To gain more physical independence, many seek help from physical therapists. That same report suggests circuit training can be a successful alternative to physical therapy.

“We investigated the safety and effects of task-oriented circuit training as an alternative to usual physiotherapy provided during outpatient treatment at a rehabilitation center to improve walking,” the authors said.

To learn this, the researchers studied 250 stroke patients from nine rehabilitation centers in the Netherlands. Subjects were required to be able to walk for at least 10 minutes without assistance and were randomly assigned to circuit training or a “usual physiotherapy” protocol. Those in the circuit training group participated in two 90-minute sessions per week for 12 weeks. Each session included a 5-minute warm-up, a 60-minute circuit consisting of eight stations, a 10-minute break/evaluation and a 15-minute group game. Throughout the circuit, participants worked in pairs; one would perform a task for 3 minutes while the other observed. Once the 3 minutes was up, they switched roles. Pairs then had 1 minute to move to the next station.

The physical therapy group’s sessions were designed to “improve control of standing balance, physical condition, and walking competency,” according to Dutch guidelines.

The researchers determined that circuit training could be a safe and effective means for helping stroke patients with mild to moderate disability improve physical competency. However, they also learned that circuit training was inferior to physical therapy for improving self-reported mobility.

“In contrast to patients’ self-reported mobility, the circuit training proved more effective in terms of walking speed, stair walking, and walking distance, though differences were small,” the authors added. “Another important aspect of the task-oriented circuit training is that it is offered in groups ranging from two to eight patients, suggesting that it is a cost-effective treatment after stroke by lowering ratios of staff to patients.”

IDEA Fitness Journal , Volume 10, Issue 6

© 2013 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson IDEA Author/Presenter

Ryan Halvorson is the associate editor for IDEA Health & Fitness Association; a Performance Specialist at Bird Rock Fit in La Jolla, CA; a Master Instructor for Metabolic Effect and the creator of www...


Trending Articles

Eight Fascinating Facts About Fascia

Fascia has been enjoying the limelight in the fitness industry as one of the hottest topics in recent conference programming, workshops and ...

Sample Class: Farmhand Fitness

Several years ago, I attended an IDEA World Fitness Convention™ session led by Michol Dalcourt, director of the Institute of Motion. D...

Obesity's Impact on Lifespan

Here’s more reason to encourage individuals who are obese to move more and improve their diets: Obesity can chop up to 9 years off a l...

Nutrition Strategies for Stress and Pain Management

Stress and pain diminish quality of life for millionsofAmericansandcostbillionsin healthcare expenses and lost wages.

Cardio and Creative Core

Group fitness participants can’t seem to get enough of creative core and cardiovascular exercises. If you need innovative ideas to cha...

Concurrent Training Can Jeopardize Strength Gains

A lot of people do concurrent training— cardio and strength training within the same session—because it seems to achieve multiple goals at the same time. It’s also a proven fat-burne...

Stress-Fighting Foods

Stress and pain diminish quality of life for millions of Americans and cost billions in healthcare expenses and lost wages.

Breathe to Lose Weight?

When a person loses weight, have you ever wondered where it goes? Scientists at the University of New South Wales in Australia have put toge...

Health Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

Crous-Bou, M., et al. 2014. Mediterranean diet and telomere length in Nurses’ Health Study: Population based cohort study. British Med...

Do Fitness Trackers Make You Healthy?

My client Mary walks into the gym and I ask her how she is feeling and whether she has stayed active. With a sigh, she tells me she’s ...