A stroke can provoke devastating changes in your health. But scientists have found that one important change in lifestyle can increase your life expectancy, improve your brain function and boost your heart health.
A study at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute shows that exercising after a stroke improves memory, language, thinking and judgment problems by about 50 percent. The researchers found that the proportion of stroke patients with at least mild cognitive impairment dropped from 66 percent to 37 percent when people exercised after a stroke.
In this experiment, 41 patients, of whom 70 percent had mild to moderate walking problems requiring a cane or walker, followed an adapted aerobic and strength/resistance training program five days a week. Exercises designed to imitate daily life included walking, lifting weights and doing squats.
“People who have cognitive deficits after stroke have a threefold risk of mortality, and they’re more likely to be institutionalized,” says lead researcher Susan Marzolini. “If we can improve cognition through exercise, which also has many physical benefits, then this should become a standard of care for people following stroke.”