Researchers say that exercise training after stroke can significantly help patients to walk faster and longer.
A Cochrane review showed that stroke patients who participate in a post-stroke walking program walk faster, longer and more independently than non-exercisers.
"Cardiorespiratory training, which used walking as the mode of exercise, can improve walking ability," said lead review author David Saunders, Ph.D., a lecturer in exercise physiology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
During the study, researchers looked at 24 studies that included 1,147 stroke patients.
The analysis focused on how participation in fitness training programs after stroke influenced rates of death, dependence or disability.
Fitness training included cardiovascular exercise (walking or cycling), strength training (free weights or resistance bands) or a combination of cardiovascular and strength training.
The study participants walked three or more days per week, usually for more than 20 minutes at a time.
In exercising patients, maximum walking speed increased by about 5.6 yards per minute, and patients could cover an additional 42.5 yards in a six-minute session compared to non-exercisers.
However, whether these benefits persist after training is finished remains unclear, said Saunders.
The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration.