Exercise does a body good. But it also improves the mind and mental health, according to a new study of stroke patients.
Just six months of exercise can significantly boost memory, language, thinking, and judgment – by almost 50 percent – in people who’ve had a stroke, according to the study presented by Toronto researchers at a meeting of the Canadian Stroke Congress this week.
"People who have cognitive deficits after stroke have a threefold risk of mortality, and they're more likely to be institutionalized," noted lead researcher Susan Marzolini of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. "If we can improve cognition through exercise, which also has many physical benefits, then this should become a standard of care for people following stroke."SPECIAL: These 5 Things Flush 40 lbs. of Fat Out of Your Body — Read More.
For the study, Toronto researchers tracked the mental-health capacities of 41 patients – 70 percent of whom had mild to moderate walking problems requiring a cane or walker – after they participated in a six-month aerobic and strength/resistance training program five days a week. Exercises designed to imitate daily life included walking, lifting weights and doing squats.
The results showed the proportion of stroke patients with at least mild cognitive impairment dropped from 66 percent to 37 percent during the study. The research team also found "significant improvements" in overall brain function, including attention, concentration, planning and organizing. Muscular strength and walking ability also increased.
"These results provide compelling evidence that by improving cardiovascular fitness through aerobic exercise and increasing muscle mass with resistance training, people with stroke can improve brain health," said Marzolini.SPECIAL: These 5 Things Flush 40 lbs. of Fat Out of Your Body — Read More.