Physical activity and sedentary behaviors in people with stroke living in the community: a systematic review

Phys Ther. 2014 Feb;94(2):185-96. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20130175. Epub 2013 Sep 12.


Background: Regular physical activity is vital for cardiovascular health. Time spent in sedentary behaviors (eg, sitting, lying down) also is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The pattern in which sedentary time is accumulated is important-with prolonged periods of sitting time being particularly deleterious. People with stroke are at high risk for cardiovascular disease, including recurrent stroke.

Purpose: This systematic review aimed to update current knowledge of physical activity and sedentary behaviors among people with stroke living in the community. A secondary aim was to investigate factors associated with physical activity levels.

Data sources: The data sources used were MEDLINE, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Allied and Complimentary Medicine Database (AMED), EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library.

Study selection: Studies involving people with stroke living in the community and utilizing objective measures of physical activity or sedentary behaviors were included.

Data extraction: Data were extracted by one reviewer and checked for accuracy by a second person.

Data synthesis: Twenty-six studies, involving 983 participants, were included. The most common measure of activity was steps per day (22 studies), which was consistently reported as less than half of age-matched normative values. Only 4 studies reported on sedentary time specifically. No studies described the pattern by which sedentary behaviors were accumulated across the day. Walking ability, balance, and degree of physical fitness were positively associated with higher levels of physical activity.

Limitations: This review included only studies of people living in the community after stroke who were able to walk, and the majority of included participants were aged between 65 and 75 years of age.

Conclusions: Little is known about the time people with stroke spend being sedentary each day or the pattern in which sedentary time is accumulated. Studies using objective, reliable, and valid measures of sedentary time are needed to further investigate the effects of sedentary time on the health of people with stroke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Motor Activity*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Stroke / physiopathology*