MAY 16, 2023 9:00 AM PDT

Exercise Promotes Faster Recovery from Stroke

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

A new study published in JAMA Network Open has shown that increased physical activity leads to better functional outcomes in the six months following a stroke.

The study included over 1,300 participants with a median age of 72 years in Sweden. Participants were recruited between 2 and 15 days after having a stroke and were followed for the 6 months. During the follow-up period, participants’ physical activity levels were assessed at 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months following their stroke. Their physical activity trajectories were noted over time, and their functional recovery from the stroke was measured at 6 months.

The results showed that participants fell into two groups: an “increaser” group that showed an increase in physical activity that was sustained at light intensity between 1 week and 6 months post-stroke, and a “decreaser” group that showed a decline in physical activity that led to being inactive over the course of the study. Those who increased or maintained their physical activity, with an average of about 4 hours of exercise a week, had over two times the likelihood of a good functional recovery from their stroke after 6 months than the group that decreased their activity and became inactive.

The lead author of the study noted that exercise can “reprogram” both the brain and body following a stroke. Additionally, exercise leads to better recovery at the cellular level, improved overall wellbeing, and enhanced cardiovascular health while decreasing the risk of depression, cognition problems, and falls. Getting a healthy amount of exercise is important for all people, and the results of this study suggest that it is especially important for those recovering from a stroke.

Sources: JAMA Network Open, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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