Exercise Programs Delivered According to Guidelines Improve Mobility in People With Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:To determine if prescribing a combined aerobic and resistance training exercise program in accordance with American Stroke Association physical activity guidelines improves mobility and physical activity levels of people after stroke. DATA SOURCES:Online database search from earliest available date to August 27, 2018. STUDY SELECTION:Randomized controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of exercise programs prescribed in accordance with guidelines for improving mobility and physical activity levels in adults with subacute or chronic stroke. DATA EXTRACTION:Two independent reviewers completed data extraction. Risk of bias was assessed using the Physiotherapy Evidence Database Scale, and overall quality of evidence was assessed using the Grades of Research, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach. DATA SYNTHESIS:Data was pooled from a total of 499 participants for meta-analysis. There was high-level evidence that exercise programs adhering to guidelines improve habitual walking speed (mean difference, 0.07m/s; 95% CI, -0.01 to 0.16) and walking endurance (mean difference, 39.2m, 95% CI, 17.2-61.2). A sensitivity analysis demonstrated high-level evidence of improvements in walking endurance (mean difference, 51.1m; 95% CI, 19.96-82.24) and moderate-level evidence of improvements on the Timed Up and Go test (standardized mean difference, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.16-0.99). No differences were detected for other mobility outcome measures or physical activity levels. Adherence was high and few adverse events were reported. CONCLUSION:A combined exercise program comprising aerobic and resistance training that adheres to the American Stroke Association guidelines is safe and should be prescribed in addition to usual care to improve mobility. Further research is needed to understand the relationship between exercise programs and behavior change requirements to improve long-term physical activity levels.

publication date

  • 2020