Being physically active through illness: Life experiences of people living with stroke in a community-based exercise scheme.

Project Details


For individuals living with stroke, exercise has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of other clinical conditions (diabetes, obesity), improve balance and co-ordination, psychological well-being (reduce anxiety, depression, improve self-esteem), and sleep. This in turn has been shown to improve engagement in activities of daily living, and thus, an individual’s quality of life (see Faulkner, Stoner, & Lambrick, 2014 for a review). In light of such proposed benefits, the HELP (Health Enhancing Lifestyle Programme) Hampshire Stroke Clinic for Stroke has been created to offer targeted physical activity interventions to individuals with stroke following discharge from the NHS care pathway. Despite the benefits of exercise for people living with stroke, it remains a challenge for health providers to facilitate opportunities for exercise with this population. The focus of this study is to consider the efficacy of this community based exercise scheme in supporting the exercise habits of people living with stroke. A number of studies have examined patients’ experiences of living with stroke from various perspectives including, the challenges faced re-entering family life (Martinsen, Kirkevold, & Sveen, 2012), difficulties returning to work (Wolfenden & Grace, 2015), and effectively engaging with health services (Martinsen, Kirkevold, & Sveen, 2015). A small number of studies have looked at the exercise experiences of individuals living with stroke (Nicholson et al., 2014; Morris, Oliver, Kroll, Joice, & Williams, 2017), although these studies have focused primarily on patients’ motivation to exercise and the facilitators and barriers to exercise. This study aims to build on this literature by considering the core research question of how do people living with stroke experience physical activity, in order to provide a more focussed and in-depth analysis of the physical activity of people living with stroke. We will consider a targeted community physical activity programme (HELP Hampshire scheme), thus exploring the efficacy of the scheme in terms of the impact it has on patients’ lives. We also build on the literature by considering the different perspectives of significant others in the lives of those living with stroke (e.g., partners, family, friends) (maybe also facilitators of the scheme). Finally, we will consider how information can be best disseminated for example, to NHS hospital-trusts, medical practitioners (stroke consultants, physiotherapists, nurses), and other individuals living with stroke. To achieve this aim, we will use creative methods to present the findings in a novel way to encourage greater engagement of applied audiences in our findings. The research will involve in-depth interviews with such individuals at different points of their engagement with the activity intervention (prior-to, during and following participation) to provide an in-depth understanding of their ‘lived experiences’ and attitudes towards participation in physical activity. Broad questions will include ‘can you describe your recent experiences of physical activity’ with elaboration prompts (e.g., ‘how did that make you feel’; ‘tell me more about that’) to elicit more thorough, detailed information. Interviews will also be informed by observations by researchers who immerse themselves into the activities of the HELP Hampshire scheme.
Short titleStroke and Exercise Scheme
Effective start/end date1/01/19 → …