This scientific statement provides an overview of the evidence on physical activity and exercise recommendations for stroke survivors. Evidence suggests that stroke survivors experience physical deconditioning and lead sedentary lifestyles. Therefore, this updated scientific statement serves as an overall guide for practitioners to gain a better understanding of the benefits of physical activity and recommendations for prescribing exercise for stroke survivors across all stages of recovery.
Members of the writing group were appointed by the American Heart Association Stroke Council’s Scientific Statement Oversight Committee and the American Heart Association’s Manuscript Oversight Committee. The writers used systematic literature reviews, references to published clinical and epidemiology studies, morbidity and mortality reports, clinical and public health guidelines, authoritative statements, personal files, and expert opinion to summarize existing evidence and indicate gaps in current knowledge.
Physical inactivity after stroke is highly prevalent. The assessed body of evidence clearly supports the use of exercise training (both aerobic and strength training) for stroke survivors. Exercise training improves functional capacity, the ability to perform activities of daily living, and quality of life, and it reduces the risk for subsequent cardiovascular events. Physical activity goals and exercise prescription for stroke survivors need to be customized for the individual to maximize long-term adherence.
The recommendation from this writing group is that physical activity and exercise prescription should be incorporated into the management of stroke survivors. The promotion of physical activity in stroke survivors should emphasize low- to moderate-intensity aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening activity, reduction of sedentary behavior, and risk management for secondary prevention of stroke.