According to the National Stroke Association, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability. A stroke can significantly impact quality of life and reduce functional capacity. However, research presented at the Canadian Stroke Congress in October suggests that stroke patients who engage in regular exercise can improve function.
The researchers wanted to know what benefits such patients could derive from a cardiovascular and resistance training program. Subjects were assessed in a variety of areas: cognition, anaerobic threshold, body composition and depressive symptoms. After 6 months, the researchers noted significant improvements in all scores.
“In a linear regression model there was a positive association between change in cognitive function and change in muscle mass and [between] change in attention/concentration and change in anaerobic threshold, independent of age, sex, time from stroke, and change in fat mass and depression score,” the authors reported. “If we can improve cognition through exercise, which also has many physical benefits, then this should become a standard of care for people following stroke.”