Patient doing exercise
Patients who combined training showed greater improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, strength and lean muscle mass. (Photo: iStock)

A new study from Toronto Rehab found that combining aerobic and resistance training provides powerful benefits to patients who are recovering from a stroke.

Stroke is a major cause of disability in Canada: it can cause muscle weakness, which can reduce mobility and threaten an individual's independence and quality of life.

Recommendations for combined aerobic and resistance training for stroke survivors have been in place for years, but few research studies exist demonstrating that it actually improves recovery. Moreover, there is no compelling evidence that combined training is more effective than aerobic training alone for post-stroke recovery.

To address this important question, Dr. Susan Marzolini and her team compared combined aerobic and resistance training with aerobic training alone in a group of stroke survivors with mobility deficits. 

They discovered despite being prescribed 40 per cent less aerobic training, patients who received combined training had enhanced stroke recovery and showed greater improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, strength and lean muscle mass.  In fact, the combined training group gained almost five times more muscle mass than the aerobic only group.  

The findings provide scientific evidence of the benefits of supplementing aerobic sessions with resistance training and support the integration of both types of training in stroke rehabilitation programs.

This work was supported by the Heart and Stroke Foundation Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery, and the Ontario Stroke Network.​

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