The psychosocial effects of exercise and relaxation classes for persons surviving a stroke

Can J Occup Ther. 2009 Apr;76(2):73-80. doi: 10.1177/000841740907600204.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Occupational Therapy / methods*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Relaxation Therapy / psychology*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Stroke / psychology*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*