The aim of this study was to determine the physiological and functional responses from high aerobic intensity treadmill walking in 4 x 4-minute intervals in people with chronic stroke and to evaluate the feasibility of this mode of training.
This was a baseline control trial with 1 year follow-up in an outpatient rehabilitation setting at a university hospital. Eight people with chronic stroke participated in and completed the study. Their mean age was 49 years. We tested uphill treadmill walking in 4 x 4-minute work periods at an intensity between 85% and 95% of peak heart rate from initial maximaltreadmill testing. There were 3-minute active breaks between the intervals. The main outcome measures were maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and walking economy (Cw). Overall compliance and adverse events determine the feasibility.
VO2max increased by 12%, Cw improved by 7%. At 1 year follow-up, VO2max was not significantly different from posttraining measurement. Functional improvements were found in the 6-minute walk test, 10-meter walk test and Timed Up and Go test after training.
Conclusions: High aerobic intensity interval treadmill walking significantly increased VO2max and improved Cw in these subjects. The training was feasible and may have important implications for cardiovascular health and future rehabilitation programs among chronic stroke survivors.