Purpose: This study investigated the physiological responses of stroke survivors to a 16-week program of moderate aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
Method: Forty participants who were a minimum of 6 months post stroke underwent physiological testing over the course of 2 days that included a maximal VO(2) stress test, a Biodex strength assessment, and a blood lipid panel. The participants were then randomly assigned to two groups, an aerobic training only (ATO) group and an aerobic and strength training (A&ST) group. Both groups were then required to exercise aerobically for 20 minutes for 3 days a week at a moderate intensity for 16 weeks. Only the A&ST group was required to do a series of eight strength-training activities as part of their exercise protocol. Once the 16-week protocol was completed, all tests were repeated. These results were compared to the pretest data.
Results: Statistically significant changes in VO(2max) were noted in the A&ST group, while positive but not significant changes were noted in the ATO group. Both groups saw significant increases in knee flexion but not in knee extension. The A&ST group showed significant increases in both shoulder flexion and extension, while the ATO group only had significant increases in shoulder extension.
Conclusion: We concluded that aerobic exercise produced positive metabolic changes in both groups, but only the A&ST group had statistically significant changes. Both groups demonstrated significant changes in functional strength, but the A&ST group experienced larger increases, likely due to the strength component of their training protocol.