Brisk Walking After Stroke Improves Survivors’ Lives
Previous studies show that engaging in physical activity such as treadmill walking and cycling after a stroke can improve a survivor’s quality of life. A new study demonstrates that regular, brisk outdoor walking can improve a stroke survivor’s physical fitness as well as quality of life.
The study, which was recently published in the journal Stroke, shows that patients can improve physical activity without the need for exercise equipment and they can do this at their convenience while walking with friends and family.
Carron Gordon, Ph.D., lead author of the study and a lecturer in the physical therapy department at University of the West Indies in Jamaica, conducted the research which involved 128 adult stroke survivors. The patients were randomly divided into a group that performed brisk, supervised outdoor walking three times a week for three months and a group that had therapeutic massage and no supervised exercise. Their average age was 64 years and they were all able to walk independently with or without using a cane.
The participants were interviewed before and after the study, and their fitness and quality of life were also evaluated. The investigators also monitored their heart rate and blood pressure before and after each walking session.
Results showed that compared to patients who only received massage therapy, patients who walked regularly had a 17% improvement in quality of life based on physical health and achieved greater endurance and lower resting heart rate.
Gordon states that walking can help control cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure, lipid or fat levels and excess weight, so it should be encouraged for patients who have had a stroke. For post-stroke patients, the American Heart Association recommends aerobic exercise 3-7 days a week, for 20-60 minutes, depending on their fitness level.
American Heart Association. Post-stroke walking program improves stroke survivors’ lives. ScienceDaily.