Background. Physical inactivity is a powerful risk factor for stroke and other chronic diseases. The aim of this study was to explore physical activity habits and preferences in the month leading up to a first-ever stroke, and to determine whether participants were aware of the link between stroke and physical activity. Methods. We undertook an observational study with 81 participants recently admitted to a stroke unit. Participants reported their pre-morbid physical activity preferences and habits and completed the Barriers to Physical Activity and Disability Survey. Data were analysed with summative content analysis and descriptive statistics. Results. Only 31% of participants were aware that physical inactivity was associated with stroke. Most participants defined physical activity with examples of instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and walking (48% of responses), and IADLs constituted their most frequent regular physical activity (38% of responses). The barriers to physical activity reported by participants most frequently were lack of motivation (52%), lack of interest (50%) and lack of energy (42%). Conclusions. Regular physical activity is important to prevent stroke and other chronic diseases but adults at risk of stroke have little awareness of the risks of physical inactivity and little motivation to undertake regular exercise.
Keywords: Physical activity; Primary prevention; Risk factor; Stroke.