Research has suggested a lack of physical activity as a significant risk factor for stroke, suggesting increasing exercise and physical activity levels may aid stroke prevention by providing significant health benefits. Strong evidence exists to support this, suggesting aerobic exercise improves an individual’s heart health and vascular profile, through reducing total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, reducing blood pressure and enhancing glucose regulation. These health improvements can prevent many stroke-inducing conditions, including obesity and type-2 diabetes, suggesting the positive role of exercise in preventing recurring stroke.
Additionally, research has also indicated exercise following a stroke helps to improve balance and mobility, reducing the severity of any remaining disability, minimising the long-term physical impacts. The evidence also indicates that aerobic activity following stroke may increase the individual’s independence and quality of life.
Aerobic physical activity can also provide psychological benefits. Mental health benefits have been observed in a number of research studies, with concomitant reduction of depression rates being noted.
Do cardiac rehabilitation exercise classes generally gain uptake with stroke survivors?
Cardiac rehabilitation exercise classes can be incorporated into post-stroke rehabilitation protocols in the UK, to help stroke survivors achieve these benefits. Such programmes often feature 10-12 weeks of group exercise classes and health education sessions. But, despite the benefits noted, uptake in these exercise classes is significantly poor amongst strong survivors, with less than 50% of UK stroke survivors participating in cardiac rehabilitation post-stroke.
Nottingham University researchers note that little has been proven about why participation in these exercise classes is so low. Perhaps, for some survivors, a lack of understanding of the benefits. For others, a lack of motivation. For others perhaps issues with accessing and participating in the classes. Many other factors (and combinations of) can cause non-attendance. Maybe many can’t find them, or if they do try them, find that they don’t help their situation and prefer to reduce their cardiovascular risk without being in a group.
The national situation has, of course, lately been an over-riding issue as classes have been unavailable for well over a year, although some have found reasonably efficient ways to run group exercise classes online. ARNI however, has found that ‘bringing the training to the survivor’ to be the most powerful way to continue throughout lockdown: by training people in one to one situations, outside, on well-matted areas when the weather permitted. And if the person was able at least to sit (or/and stand outside).
A question for you….
Have you ever taken part in a cardiac rehabilitation class or ANY other form of structured exercise class?
If so, would you help ARNI friends at Nottingham University understand your experiences with cardiac rehabilitation?
This research will be investigating factors influencing participation and access to cardiac rehabilitation or similar exercise classes amongst stroke survivors. It will simply involve you taking part in a one-off online interview (approximately 45 minutes), where they will ask you about your experiences. This interview will be conducted remotely over Microsoft Teams or over the telephone… so you won’t need to leave the comfort of your own home. As a thank you for your participation, all participants will be entered into a prize draw following completion of the interview.
Nottingham University hopes this research will help them to add to the evidence of how we can improve UK cardiac rehabilitation opportunities amongst stroke survivors…
Please contact the co-investigator right now: Emma Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org
Emma will be very happy to answer any and all questions, and thanks you very much for considering helping her and the team at Nottingham University!