Motivators for physical activity in patients with minor stroke: a qualitative study


PURPOSE: Physical inactivity is a major risk factor for stroke. However, to encourage physical activity after stroke, it is important to know what motivates the patients. We aimed to explore possible motivators and barriers for physical activity in patients discharged after minor stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).

METHODS: A qualitative study including 35 patients (21 men) with minor stroke or TIA (median age; 69 years, range 47-90) in semi-structured focus group interviews. Audio recordings were transcribed to text verbatim and analyzed with qualitative content analysis.

RESULTS: Six interviews of 60 min. revealed five categories; the patients had a positive attitude towards physical activity, and they preferred to exercise locally under supervision of health professionals. Physical activity with others was motivating and obligating, and if possible as a weekly habit. Some experienced physical- and mental sequelae, which kept them from exercising.

CONCLUSION: This study provides valuable knowledge of what motivates and prevents patients with minor stroke or TIA to be physically active after hospital discharge, and what to consider when designing future exercise studies. Consequently, it is recommended that patients with minor stroke or TIA are offered supervised physical activity to prevent worsening of cardiovascular disease and recurrent cardiovascular event.Implications for rehabilitationParticipants were positive towards physical activity after minor stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA).Physical activity with others was perceived as both motivating and obligating.Post-stroke fatigue, lack of energy, and overview should be considered when designing secondary prevention programs.Participants call for exercise opportunities arranged locally and as group exercise supervised by health professionals with knowledge of stroke.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)277-285
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Stroke/complications


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