Duration of physical activity is normal but frequency is reduced after stroke: an observational study

J Physiother. 2011;57(1):47-51. doi: 10.1016/S1836-9553(11)70007-8.


Question: What is the free-living physical activity of community-dwelling people with stroke compared with that of age-matched healthy controls?

Design: A cross-sectional observational study.

Participants: 42 people with stroke and 21 age-matched healthy controls aged 52 to 87 years living in Sydney, Australia.

Outcome measures: Free-living physical activity was measured using the Intelligent Device for Energy Expenditure and Activity (IDEEA) and reported as duration (time on feet in min) and frequency (activity counts).

Results: People with stroke spent 79 (95% CI 20 to 138) fewer min on their feet and performed 5308 (95% CI 3171 to 7445) fewer activity counts than healthy controls. The observation period of the free-living physical activity of stroke survivors was significantly less than that of the healthy controls. Data adjusted to a fixed observation period (12 hr) showed no relative difference in time on feet between the groups (mean difference 36 min, 95% CI -27 to 99) but that people after stroke still had relatively fewer activity counts than healthy controls (mean difference 4062 counts, 95% CI 1787 to 6337).

Conclusions: The reduction in physical activity after stroke is not primarily because of a decrease in the time spent being active but rather a decrease in frequency of activity during that time. Future research into physical activity after stroke needs to consider energy expenditure because stroke survivors exhibit a reduced frequency of physical activity due to the nature of their impairments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Stroke / physiopathology*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*