Adherence to a Long-Term Physical Activity and Exercise Program After Stroke Applied in a Randomized Controlled Trial
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Background Persistent physical activity is important to maintain motor function across all stages after stroke. Objective The objective of this study was to investigate adherence to an 18-month physical activity and exercise program. Design The design was a prospective, longitudinal study including participants who had had a stroke randomly allocated to the intervention arm of a randomized controlled trial. Methods The intervention consisted of individualized monthly coaching by a physical therapist who motivated participants to adhere to 30 minutes of daily physical activity and 45 minutes of weekly exercise over an 18-month period. The primary outcome was the combination of participants' self-reported training diaries and adherence, as reported by the physical therapists. Mixed-effect models were used to analyze change in adherence over time. Intensity levels, measured by the Borg scale, were a secondary outcome. Results In total, 186 informed, consenting participants who had had mild-to-moderate stroke were included 3 months after stroke onset. Mean age was 71.7 years (SD = 11.9). Thirty-four (18.3%) participants withdrew and 9 (4.8%) died during follow-up. Adherence to physical activity and exercise each month ranged from 51.2% to 73.1%, and from 63.5% to 79.7%, respectively. Adherence to physical activity increased by 2.6% per month (odds ratio = 1.026, 95% CI = 1.014–1.037). Most of the exercise was performed at moderate-to-high intensity levels, ranging from scores of 12 to 16 on the Borg scale, with an increase of 0.018 points each month (95% CI = 0.011–0.024). Limitations Limitations included missing information about adherence for participants with missing data and reasons for dropout. Conclusions Participants with mild and moderate impairments after stroke who received individualized regular coaching established and maintained moderate-to-good adherence to daily physical activity and weekly exercise over time.