Abstract

Importance: Physical activity (PA) is recommended for improving physical and cardiovascular function but can be challenging because of stroke-related impairments. A better understanding of how adults with stroke conceptualize PA could assist in developing effective interventions for increasing poststroke PA.

Objective: To explore how adults with stroke conceptualize PA.

Design: Phenomenological qualitative design.

Setting: Participants’ homes.

Participants: Community-dwelling adults with chronic (>6 mo) stroke (N = 15).

Outcomes and Measures: Semistructured interviews were conducted with participants. Data were analyzed by means of inductive content analysis to identify key themes.

Results: Three key themes emerged: (1) moderate to vigorous PA, which includes exercise-related activities (going to the gym, walking, playing sports); (2) PA necessary for performing daily activities and occupations, which includes basic and instrumental activities of daily living; and (3) avoiding sedentary behavior, which includes not wanting to sit for long periods of time, avoiding boredom, and valuing PA over being sedentary.

Conclusions and Relevance: Participants broadly categorized PA, encompassing multiple activity types, which is encouraging because reducing sedentary behavior and increasing PA of any intensity can improve cardiometabolic health. Interventions that complement and enhance these conceptualizations, alone or in combination with other mechanisms of action, should be explored for their efficacy in increasing PA in adults with stroke.

What This Article Adds: After stroke, perceptions of PA encompass exercise, daily activities and occupations, and avoiding sedentary behavior; these perceptions could be harnessed to promote PA among adults after stroke.

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