Background: This study was set up to explore unexpected findings emergent from a randomized controlled trial of exercise versus relaxation post-stroke.
Purpose: Stroke survivors' experiences of taking part in exercise and relaxation classes were explored.
Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews carried out with 14 community-dwelling stroke survivors in Edinburgh. The informants previously participated in a randomized exploratory trial of exercise versus relaxation.
Findings: The classes motivated participants to take part in other purposeful activities, to continue to practice what they had learned, and/or to attend another class in the community. Class participation also led to an improvement of self-perceived quality of life, specifically, improved confidence, physical ability, psychosocial functioning, and a sense of empowerment.
Implications: Taking part in either exercise or relaxation classes after stroke can contribute to improved self-perceived quality of life, improved psychosocial functioning, and improved motivation to take an active role in the recovery process.