Brisk Walking Outdoors Helps Stroke Survivors

Stroke survivors can improve their physical fitness, mobility and quality of life by regularly walking at a brisk pace, according to new research.

In a study of 128 adult stroke survivors, researchers found that those who walked briskly three times a week for three months lowered their resting heart rate, improved their walking endurance and reported an improvement in the quality of their life based on physical health.

Although previous studies already have shown that increasing physical activity after a stroke can help stroke survivors, that research focused on treadmill walking and cycling. This study, published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, looked at walking outdoors, something that more people can do since it doesn’t require a gym membership or equipment.

“Walking is a great way to get active after a stroke,” said lead author Carron Gordon, in a news release from the AHA. “It’s familiar, inexpensive, and it’s something people could very easily get into.”

The AHA currently suggests that stroke survivors perform aerobic exercise three to seven days a week, for 20 to 60 minutes, depending on their fitness level. For healthy adults, the guideline is 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise.

The authors note that the study’s results cannot be extended to patients who have severe effects from a stroke, such as being unable to walk independently.

Many people who have strokes are afraid of losing their balance and falling.

“Walking can help control blood pressure, reduce lipid or fat levels and help with weight control – all cardiovascular risk factors,” Gordon said in the news release. “So doctors should encourage it for patients who have had a stroke.”

Source: American Heart Association news release

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