Treadmills and Stroke Recovery

Treadmills and Stroke Recovery

The treadmill has long been recognized as an important tool of the medical profession. As far back as the mid-1960s the treadmill was used as a diagnostic tool for pulmonary and cardiac diseases. It was around this time that it also came to be recognized as a beneficial tool for improving health and losing weight.

Treadmills Study With Stroke Victims

In recent years, research has produced some interesting and notable facts. Among these is the discovery that even several years after a stroke, using a treadmill can dramatically reduce symptoms of stroke damage, and result in improvements in mobility and general health. This is from a study conducted at John Hopkins University in 2008. The importance of this should be clear to everyone. It is never too late to repair stroke damage and reverse the effects of a stroke, and a treadmill can be used as a key tool in that recovery.

Improvement Still Possible Years Later

The study focused specifically on the use of a treadmill to “rewire” the patient’s brain and clearly demonstrated that the possibility of success with a treadmill is still there even years after the occurrence of the stroke.

There were seventy-one individuals used in the study, all of whom had a stroke at least six months before the beginning of the study. Among the seventy-one participants, the average time since the stroke was close to four years. Prior to the study, about thirty-five of the patients were able to walk without assistance, and the remainder needed help ranging from a cane to a wheelchair.

In the course of the study, half of the participants worked out for about forty minutes, three times every week. The others did stretching exercises for the same length of time and for the same number of days.

The Results

When all of them were retested after six months, the walking speed for the group which had worked out on the treadmill had increased over fifty percent, whereas the stretching group saw only an eleven percent improvement.

More interesting than the improvements in walking speed, were the results of the brain scans conducted before and after. There were no registered differences in the brain scans of the stretchers, but the treadmill exercisers showed significantly increased activity in the area of the brain that regulates ambulation.

This is important to point out because it demonstrates that the improvements that resulted from the treadmill workouts were due to changes in the brain rather than to the mere response of muscles to exercise.


For decades, stroke victims have been told that after a certain amount of time they simply have to live with their stroke-induced handicaps. This research clearly demonstrates that with the use of a treadmill they can continue to improve and heal.