Recovery from a Stroke

As if you need another reason to convince you to institute an exercise regime, it turns out that people who exercise regularly may be harmed less by a stroke than those who do not. According to a new study, stroke victims who exercise throughout their lives performed better on two important scales measuring resiliency after a first stroke.

One of the two scales used was the Barthel Index, a respected measure of ability to perform 20 daily activities such dressing or bathing. “The second measure, the Oxford Handicap Scale, takes a broader approach, such as speech and reading comprehension, and the ability to return to work. Study participants who reported having had regular exercise one to three times a week before their strokes functioned significantly better than those who had been sedentary, and those who reported having done aerobic physical activity four or more times a week appeared to do even better.

Medical experts say that the relationship makes sense; if you are physically fit before a stroke, you have more capacity to adjust or compensate after the stroke. They warn that the results, however, common sensical, are still preliminary.

Not within the scope of these study but also important, experts also say there is some evidence, still very sketchy, that exercise leads to reduced risk of stroke in the first place. This is especially true of those who do vigorous exercise from the teen years into their mid-50s. But even people who keep walking as little as 20 minutes a day right through their senior years also seem to see some reduction in stroke occurrences.