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Walking Can Speed Up Recovery for Stroke Survivors

Update Date: Mar 09, 2013 02:01 PM EST

Walking has always been considered a good form of exercise, especially for those who may not be capable of running or doing rigorous activities any more due to illnesses or age. A new study published in Stroke reaffirmed the belief that walking can indeed improve one's quality of life. The study focused on the benefits of walking specifically for stroke survivors, who may not be walking as frequently due to the fear of falling or the lack of energy. Lead author, Dr. Carron Gordon, who is a lecturer for physical therapy found that stroke survivors who took brisk walks had a better quality of life and a faster recovery path.

Dr. Gordon and her research team from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica recruited 70 women and 58 men, totaling to 128 participants within the experiment. The average age of the participants was 64, and all participants experienced a stroke six to 24 months before the study started. A half of the participants were in the control group receiving massage therapy only. The other 64 people were in the experimental group and were required to go on supervised walks. All participants had the ability to walk with or without a cane.

The walking group participants went on three walks a week for 12 weeks. At the beginning, the walks were only 15 minutes and were slowly increased to half an hour by the end of the experiment. All of the participants either walked freely or with a cane alongside a supervisor. The researchers found that the walking group had a 16.7 percent increase in quality of life measured by physical health. The massage therapy group had an increase of 6.7 percent in resting heart rate while the walking group had a 1.5 percent decrease in resting heart rate. When both groups were asked to do a six-minute walking endurance test, the participants in the experimental group walked 17.6 percent further than the controlled group.

Although walking has always been considered a great form of exercise, this study provided the statistics behind just how much walking can benefit a stoke survivor. Furthermore, the brisk form of exercise is not only limited to walking. Stroke survivors that cannot walk can find different ways of exercising to help improve their quality of life. Lastly, researchers hope that these findings will encourage stroke survivors to participate in more physical activities, especially those involving family, which would also help improve life. 

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