Things just got a bit easier! A recent Korean study has shown that the free and easy-to-practice circuit training (simple lower limbs and legs training) can significantly improve your balance and gait abilities.
In a recent 2017 Korean study, researchers found that circuit training (such as sit to stand, one-leg standing and other lower limb exercises) can characteristically improve balance and gait abilities in stroke patients during rehabilitation. Researchers compared two groups to reach this conclusion. One group of patients performed circuit training for 50 minutes daily in addition to their regular therapy sessions. The other group of similar patients only participated in standard therapy sessions.
How the study worked
This study method is known as a randomized controlled trial (RCT). It divides subjects into two groups; one group receives special treatment or therapy (the study group). The other group (the control group) does not. Researchers use this method to make sure that the reported results are due to the treatment or therapy used.
Both groups of patients contained adult males and females between the ages of 42 and 70, who suffered from a stroke within the previous 6 months. These patients were able to walk at least 10 meters alone (with or without aid). Those who suffered from unstable cardiovascular diseases (e.g., uncontrolled hypertension) or systemic illness were cast out of the study. The circuit training consisted of 10 workstations that you can easily perform at home. The workstations included exercises like sit-to-stand, stepping, one leg standing, tandem standing (one foot before the other), reaching, and walking with an obstacle.
Get an overview of some of the most used exercises in circuit training for stroke patients. Circuit training is part of the official stroke rehab guidelines in The Netherlands, where this video was recorded.
After four weeks, both groups underwent the so-called 6-minute walk test. This test measures the distance that a patient can walk in 6 minutes. The results were clear. Lower limb circuit training improved gait and balance abilities by an average of 44.2%.
The study group that received circuit training became capable of walking an average of 336 meters in 6-minutes after the 4-week training program, compared to only 233 meters before the program.
The control group, who did not receive circuit training, saw only limited improvements. The patients of the control group also improved, but much less. They could walk 202 meters after the program, compared to 160 meters before.
The 6-minute walk test is a good indicator of walking capability and general quality of life. An increase in the walking distance because of circuit training can make a big difference in your capacity to participate in social activities.
Findings in similar studies support the outcome of this study in regards to the benefits of circuit training for stroke patients. Circuit training is a fun training method that is valuable in all stages of your stroke rehabilitation. It can vary a lot in the type of exercises, duration, and intensity. Therefore, it is worthwhile to discuss circuit training with your stroke therapist.
The leading author of this publication is Dr. Kim from the Department of Physical Therapy, College of Rehabilitation Science, Daegu University, Republic of Korea.