Background: Many survivors of stroke face chronic disability and increased risk for recurrent stroke. Regular physical activity can reduce these risk factors and improve cardiovascular fitness. Most survivors of stroke face barriers to exercise, including lack of access to programs; as a result, most are sedentary.
Objective: Pilot the Neurological Exercise Training (NExT) program or survivors of stroke for attendance, safety, and effectiveness.
Methods: The NExT program was designed to promote self-directed exercise in a safe, accessible environment. Six participants attended as desired during open gym hours over two exercise periods per week totalling 19 weeks. After, participants were encouraged to continue exercise away from the gym for 20 weeks. Practicability of the program was assessed through safety, attendance, exercise intensity, and perception of the program. Pilot effectiveness measures were performed at five time points and effect sizes were generated.
Results: Attendance averaged 76% (SD12%) of possible sessions with an average duration of 62 (SD 11.3) minutes. Effectiveness measures had positive effect sizes after 19 weeks of the NExT program, but these benefits were lost after 20-weeks (cohen's d, mobility = 0.67 to -0.22, balance = 0.57 to -1.22, strength = 0.41 to -0.30, endurance = 0.09 to -0.19 and fatigue = 1.02 to -0.57).
Conclusion: Results demonstrate that a community-based gym that is accessible for survivors of stroke will be well attended and perceived as beneficial. Pilot data suggests positive changes in multiple health domains regardless of the type of exercise self-selected by participants. Offering the gym on a continual basis may maintain gains.
Keywords: Community program; Exercise; Stroke.
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