People who exercise regularly prior to suffering a stroke recover faster after the attack, claims a new study.
It showed that patients who had previously exercised regularly before a stroke occurred were significantly more likely to have milder impairments and, thus, were better able to care for themselves, compared to patients who rarely exercised.
"It appears that exercise is very beneficial to people at risk of developing a stroke," said Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr James Meschia, the study's lead investigator.
"Many studies have shown that exercise can reduce the risk of developing a stroke in the first place, and this study suggests that if an active person does have a stroke, outcomes can be improved," he added.
The researchers looked at data collected by scientists at four centers - Mayo Clinic's campuses in Jacksonville and in Rochester, Minn.; the University of Florida and the University of Virginia - who participated in the Ischemic Stroke Genetics Study.
Of 673 patients, 50.5 percent reported that prior to their stroke, they exercised less than once a week, 28.5 percent exercised one to three times a week, and 21 percent reported aerobic physical activity four times a week or more.
However, Dr. Meschia insists that a larger study is needed to validate these findings, because this study depended on recall from 673 people who had a stroke.
He said a new study could also help clarify whether moderate or vigorous exercise is necessary to improve outcomes.
The study appears in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.