Physical fitness training after stroke, time to implement what we know: more research is needed

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Abstract

Stroke survivors experience marked reduction in physical activity and fitness. Regular physical fitness training, started early poststroke, could help recovery in the long term and is recommended in many clinical guidelines. However, implementation of programs is hampered by our current lack of knowledge about what interventions are most effective and how best to support stroke survivors to exercise. In the United Kingdom and Australia, there are educational programs for exercise professionals to enable them to safely and effectively deliver exercise to stroke survivors; and in the United Kingdom, community exercise training programs are being developed to follow-on from usual rehabilitation. As with many areas of life after stroke, further research is still needed. We need to know more about the effect of exercise training on common poststroke problems such as fatigue, depression and falls. Importantly, we need to understand the perceived barriers and motivators to exercise after stroke, and how to enhance adherence to the exercise programs that are in current development. However, these knowledge gaps should not prevent us from implementing what we know; and we would urge health professionals to work with exercise professionals to develop pathways into exercise for stroke survivors.

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