People with stroke often experience physical decline and aerobic fitness that can be reversed through exercise. Evidence has shown that participating in exercise benefits aerobic fitness and vascular health while less is known about brain health. However, the optimal exercise dose such as intensity and exercise type (continuous, interval) are not yet known.
The long-term goal of this project is to develop and test strategies to be implemented in larger clinical trials to improve health in people living with stroke. For this preliminary efficacy trial, the Investigator will enroll 50 participants with chronic stroke, age 20-85 years, into a 4-week exercise program. Participants will be allocated to one of the following groups using minimization, a type of randomization based on the lower extremity Fugl-Meyer score: 1) moderate intensity continuous training (MICT), that serves as the control, or 2) high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Exercise will be performed on a recumbent stepper. The Investigator will: Assess the preliminary efficacy of HIIT on aerobic fitness (Aim 1), cerebrovascular hemodynamics (Aim 2), and vascular function (Aim 3).
Current exercise recommendations for stroke use general exercise prescription principles for older adults and are not grounded on data generated from large, well-designed, randomized controlled trials in stroke. If aerobic exercise could be proven to reduce the number of “years of life lived with disability,” it would offer a key strategy for: 1) minimizing dependence on caregiver support, 2) reducing overall healthcare costs, and 3) extending quality of life for individuals after stroke. This proposed trial will address an important gap in knowledge for both the scientific and clinical communities and provide essential data that will contribute to future exercise prescription recommendations focused on stroke.
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