Research from the University of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania, has established that structured physical activity following a stroke can significantly improve cognitive function in survivors. The study used data from 13 clinical trials that included 735 participants to analyze general cognitive improvement, executive function, attention and working memory, as well as the impact of different types of physical activity.
Researchers found that exercise following a stroke produced cognitive improvements in both attention and speed in processing information. They further discovered that a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training produced the maximum cognitive improvements.
“We found that a program as short as 12 weeks is effective at improving cognition, and even patients with chronic stroke can experience improvements in their cognition with an exercise intervention,” says lead author Lauren E. Oberlin, a graduate student at the university.