For stroke survivors, light physical activity linked to better daily function

April 02, 2020

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Researchers used accelerometers to measure daily physical activity in 30 stroke survivors for a week, assessing how much the participants moved and how well they performed routine physical tasks. The study revealed that stroke survivors who engaged in a lot of light physical activity - taking leisurely walks or attending to nonstrenuous household chores, for example - also reported fewer physical limitations than their more sedentary peers.

The researchers describe their findings in the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

"Stroke is a major cause of disability in older adults," said Neha Gothe, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who led the research. "We know that physical activity can improve how well people survive a stroke and recover after the fact. But almost no research has looked at how physical activity of different intensities affects physical function among stroke survivors."

Gothe and her research team used two measures of physical ability - the Short Physical Performance Battery, which measures balance, walking speed and lower-limb endurance, and the Late-Life Function and Disability Instrument, which asks participants to report how difficult it is for them to perform daily tasks such as getting in and out of a car or pouring water from a heavy pitcher.

The researchers discovered that, on average, the stroke survivors logged only about seven minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day.

"In contrast, they averaged more than three hours of light physical activity each day," Gothe said. "This includes things like walking at a leisurely pace, housekeeping, light gardening or other activities that do not cause a person to break a sweat."

The amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was the best predictor of participants' performance on objective measures of physical function, the researchers found. But a person's self-reported ability to perform daily tasks was much more closely associated with the amount of time they engaged in light physical activity.

"Our findings are preliminary but suggest that - in addition to moderate-to-vigorous physical activity - those daily routines that keep us on our feet and physically engaged in lighter tasks also contribute to better physical functioning in stroke survivors. This aligns with the latest Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans that emphasize the need to move more and sit less," Gothe said. "Engaging in light physical activity can be healthy and beneficial, especially for those with chronic health conditions such as stroke."
Editor's notes:

To reach Neha Gothe, email

The paper "Associations between physical activity intensities and physical function in stroke survivors" is available online and from the U. of I. News Bureau.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, News Bureau

Related Physical Activity Articles from Brightsurf:

Physical activity in the morning could be most beneficial against cancer
The time of day when we exercise could affect the risk of cancer due to circadian disruption, according to a new study with about 3,000 Spanish people  

Physical activity and sleep in adults with arthritis
A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research has examined patterns of 24-hour physical activity and sleep among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and knee osteoarthritis.

Regular physical activity seems to enhance cognition in children who need it most
Researchers at the Universities of Tsukuba and Kobe re-analyzed data from three experiments that tested whether physical activity interventions lead to improved cognitive skills in children.

The benefits of physical activity for older adults
New findings published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports reveal how physically active older adults benefit from reduced risks of early death, breast and prostate cancer, fractures, recurrent falls, functional limitations, cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression.

Physical activity may protect against new episodes of depression
Increased levels of physical activity can significantly reduce the odds of depression, even among people who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

Is physical activity always good for the heart?
Physical activity is thought to be our greatest ally in the fight against cardiovascular disease.

Physical activity in lessons improves students' attainment
Students who take part in physical exercises like star jumps or running on the spot during school lessons do better in tests than peers who stick to sedentary learning, according to a UCL-led study.

Physical activity may attenuate menopause-associated atherogenic changes
Leisure-time physical activity is associated with a healthier blood lipid profile in menopausal women, but it doesn't seem to entirely offset the unfavorable lipid profile changes associated with the menopausal transition.

Are US adults meeting physical activity guidelines?
The proportion of US adults adhering to the 'Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans' from the US Department of Health and Human Services didn't significantly improve between 2007 and 2016 but time spent sitting increased.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds do less vigorous physical activity
Children from disadvantaged backgrounds and certain ethnic minority backgrounds, including from Pakistani and Bangladeshi backgrounds, have lower levels of vigorous physical activity, according to researchers at the University of Cambridge.

Read More: Physical Activity News and Physical Activity Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to