The Right Prescription for Exercise

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Study finds combining aerobic and resistance training significantly enhances stroke recovery.
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Rehabilitation programs that incorporate muscle strengthening can help stroke survivors improve their ability to perform independent activities of daily living.
A new study from the University Health Network’s Toronto Rehab provides proof that combining aerobic and resistance training provides powerful benefits to patients who are recovering from a stroke.
 
Stroke is a major cause of disability in Canada: it can cause muscle weakness, which can reduce mobility and threaten a survivor’s independence and quality of life.
 
Recommendations for combined aerobic and resistance training for stroke survivors have been in place for years; however, few research studies exist that demonstrate that they actually improve recovery. Moreover there is no compelling evidence that combined training is more effective than aerobic training alone for post-stroke recovery.
 
To address this important question, Dr. Susan Marzolini and her team compared combined aerobic and resistance training with aerobic training alone in a group of stroke survivors with mobility deficits. 
 
They discovered that, despite being prescribed 40% less aerobic training, patients who received combined training had enhanced stroke recovery and showed greater improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, strength and lean muscle mass.  In fact, the combined training group gained almost five times more muscle mass than the aerobic training only group.  
 
The findings provide scientific evidence of the benefits of supplementing aerobic sessions with resistance training and support the integration of both types of training in stroke rehabilitation programs.
 
This work was supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery, and the Ontario Stroke Network.
 
Marzolini S, Brooks D, Oh P, Jagroop D, MacIntosh BJ, Anderson ND, Alter D, Corbett D. Aerobic With Resistance Training or Aerobic Training Alone Poststroke: A Secondary Analysis From a Randomized Clinical Trial. Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2018 Mar;32(3):209-222. doi: 10.1177/1545968318765692.