The effects of aquatic exercise program on cardiorespiratory function, motor fitness, and physical activity affect for poststroke adults
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The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of a 6-week aquatic exercise program on cardiorespiratory function, motor fitness, and physical activity affect for poststroke adults. A 2 × 2 crossover design with a 2-week washout period was used for this study. Eleven poststroke adults (age range 50 to 80 years) were recruited from local rehabilitation centers, and the participants were randomly assigned to exercise and control phases. The participants in the exercise phase engaged in the individualized aquatic exercise program for 6 weeks. The participants in the control phase engaged in their normal daily activities without participation in any aquatic exercise sessions for 6 weeks.The participants in both phases were crossed over to the alternate phase (i.e., exercise and control) for another 6 weeks separated by a 2-week washout period. All the participants were assessed at baseline, 6, 8, and 14 weeks for data analysis. The aquatic exercise program focused on improving cardiorespiratory function, motor fitness, and physical activity affect for the participants. The participants in the exercise phase participated in the individualized aquatic exercise sessions for 60 min, 3 times per week, for 6 weeks at 50-70% of their maximal heart rate reserve. In order to examine the hypotheses of this study, a two-way ANOVA with repeated measures was applied for parametric variables, and Wilcoxon matched-pair test was applied for non-parametric variables. The significance level was set at p ≤ .05. Compared to the control phase, the poststroke participants demonstrated significant improvements in resting heart rate (-5%), mean arterial pressure (-5.4%), the ratio of forced expiration volume in 1 s to forced vital capacity (8.1%), normal gait speed (25.9%), Timed Up and Go (-17%), chronic positive affect (37.1%), negative affect (-69.2%), tranquility (28.9%), and fatigue (-54.7%) across the exercise phase. Within the limitations of the study and specific to the participants of the study, it was concluded that participation in the 6-week aquatic exercise program would be beneficial for the poststroke participants to maintain and improve their cardiorespiratory function, motor fitness, and physical activity affect.