Aerobic Exercise Improves Cognition and Motor Function Poststroke

The objective of this study was to understand AEX-induced improvements in EF, motor learning, and mobility poststroke. Following cardiorespiratory testing, 38 chronic stroke survivors were randomized to 2 different groups that exercised 3 times a week (45-minute sessions) for 8 weeks. The AEX group performed progressive resistive stationary bicycle training at 70% maximal heart rate, whereas the Stretching Exercise (SE) group performed stretches at home. Between-group comparisons were performed on the change in performance at “Post” and “Retention” (8 weeks later) for neuropsychological and motor function measures. VO2max significantly improved at Post with AEX. AEX also improved motor learning in the less-affected hand, with large effect sizes. Specifically, AEX significantly improved information processing speed on the serial reaction time task, AEX significantly improved predictive force accuracy for a precision grip task requiring attention and conditional motor learning of visual cues. Ambulation and sit-to-stand transfers were significantly faster in the AEX group at Post with balance control significantly improved at Retention.

AEX improves mobility and selected cognitive domains related to motor learning, which enhances sensorimotor control after stroke.

Quaney, B. M., Boyd, L. A., McDowd, J. M., Zahner, L. H., Jianghua He, , Mayo, M. S., Macko, R. F.. Aerobic Exercise Improves Cognition and Motor Function Poststroke. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, Vol. 23, No. 9, 879-885 (2009)