Association between pre-stroke physical activity and mobility and walking ability in the early subacute phase: A registry-based study


  • Malin Reinholdsson Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden
  • Anna Grimby-Ekman
  • Hanna C. Persson



prestroke, stroke, exercise, physical activity, mobility, transfers, walking, upper extremity


Objective: To investigate associations between pre-stroke physical activity and mobility, walking ability, and self-perceived upper extremity function during stroke unit care.

Design: A longitudinal, registry-based study with a consecutively collected cohort.

Subjects/patients: A total of 1,092 adults with stroke admitted to 3 Swedish stroke units between 2017 and 2018.

Methods: Logistic mixed effects regression models were performed to investigate associations (adjusted for age and sex). Pre-stroke physical activity was assessed with Saltin-Grimby Physical Activity Level Scale on admission. Mobility, walking ability, and self-perceived upper extremity function were assessed at admission and discharge from the stroke units and compared between pre-stroke physically active (45%) and inactive (55%) groups.

Results: All groups of patients showed improvements in mobility (p < 0.001), walking ability (p < 0.001), and upper extremity function (p < 0.001). The chang-es over time tended to differ between the physically inactive and active groups for mobility (p < 0.062) and walking ability (p < 0.056), but the differences were not significant.

Conclusion: Pre-stroke physically active people show-ed a tendency to be more independent in physical
functioning early after stroke. Regardless of pre-stroke physical activity, all patients showed improvements in mobility, walking ability, and self-perceived upper extremity function during inpatient care.


Lay Abstract

To be physically active prior to a stroke may improve the post-stroke recovery process. Therefore, we hypothesized that pre-stroke physical activ-ity might reduce the consequences of a stroke. This study investigated associations between pre-stroke physical activity and post-stroke recovery of mobility, walking ability, and arm and hand function. A total of 1,092 patients were examined; 44% were women, 89% had ischaemic stroke, and 55% were physically inactive before the stroke.
All patients showed improvements during care at the stroke units, regardless of their previous physical activity level. At hospital discharge, 71% of patients showed independent mobility, 68% could walk independently, and 55% reported self-perceived arm and hand impairments. Patients with higher pre-stroke physical activity levels had a tendency of being more independent in mobility and walking compared with inactive patients. However, the frequencies of self-perceived arm and hand impairments were similar between the physically active and physically inactive groups. To be physically active prior to a stroke may improve the post-stroke recovery process.


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How to Cite

Reinholdsson, M., Grimby-Ekman, A., & Persson, H. C. (2021). Association between pre-stroke physical activity and mobility and walking ability in the early subacute phase: A registry-based study. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 53(10 (October), jrm00233.



Original Report