Physical activity and exercise could improve quality of life for post-stroke patients, according to a recent American Heart Association and American Stroke Association statement.
“There is strong evidence that physical activity and exercise after stroke can improve cardiovascular fitness, walking ability and upper arm strength,” Sandra Billinger, PT, PhD,FAHA, physical therapist at the University of Kansas Medical Center and lead author of the statement and associated study, said in a news release.
“In addition, exercise may improve depressive symptoms, cognitive function, memory and quality of life,” she said.
The study, published in Stroke, noted that stroke survivors should exercise for 20 to 60 minutes at a time, at least 3 days a week, and that simple exercise such as walking or household chores can gradually boost endurance.
Billinger said there is a gap when stroke patients are discharged from rehabilitation and transition to community exercise programs, and that health care providers should take a more aggressive approach to address their needs.
“Too few health care professionals prescribe exercise as a form of therapy for stroke. These patients may not know how, or cannot afford to take advantage of exercise programs in their communities,” she said.
“We as health care providers need to help stroke patients develop the skills and confidence they need to begin and maintain an exercise program that includes aerobic exercise and strength training as part of their stroke care,” Billinger said.