Exercising for four hours a week can help people who have had a stroke recover better than those who don’t, according to new research.

The Swedish study examined data from 1,500 stroke patients and found that doing four hours of exercise a week doubled their chances of a good recovery six months after having a stroke.

The research also showed that men and those with normal cognition were more likely to exercise regularly, and so achieved a better recovery.

First author Dr Dongni Buvarp, who is a clinical neuroscience researcher at the University of Gothenburg, said: “Physical activity reprogrammes both the brain and the body favourably after a stroke. Exercise improves the body’s recovery at the cellular level, boosts muscle strength and well-being, and reduces the risk of falls, depression, and cardiovascular disease.

“Regardless of how severe the stroke has been, those affected can derive benefits from exercising more.”

The study, which took place across 35 hospitals in Sweden from 2014 to 2019, underlines how important it is to stay active following a stroke.

It follows the team’s previous research, which found a link between exercise and how severe symptoms are at the onset on a stroke.

Dr Buvarp said: “Being physically active is hugely important, especially after a stroke. That’s a message that health professionals, stroke victims and their loved ones should all know.

“Women and people with impaired cognition seem to become less active after stroke. The study results indicate that these groups need more support to get going with physical activity.”

The researchers noted that a shortcoming of their study was they were unable to establish how active the study participants were prior to having a stroke.

Read the full study in JAMA Network Open.

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