Randomization to Treadmill Training Improves Physical and Metabolic Health in Association With Declines in Oxidative Stress in Stroke

Monica C. Serra, Charlene E. Hafer-Macko, Ronna Robbins, Jason C. O'Connor, Alice S. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: To investigate the effect of aerobic exercise vs control (stretching/balance) on inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers in stroke survivors and whether these changes are associated with improvements in physical and metabolic health. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: The general communities of Baltimore, Maryland, and Atlanta, Georgia. Participants: Two hundred forty-six older (>50 years), chronic (>6 months) survivors of stroke (N=246) with hemiparetic gait were recruited, with 51 completing pre-intervention testing and 39 completing postintervention testing. Participants were required to have completed all conventional physical therapy and be capable of walking 3 minutes on a treadmill (N=246). Intervention: Participants completed 6 months of 2 times/wk stretching or balance (ST; n=19) or 3 times/wk aerobic treadmill rehabilitation (TM; n=20;). Main Outcome Measure(s): Peak oxygen uptake rate (V̇O2peak), 6-minute walking distance (6MWD), fasting plasma glucose, insulin, oxidative stress, and inflammatory biomarkers were assessed pre- and postintervention. Homeostatic Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) was calculated. Results: Physical function and metabolic health parameters tended to improve after TM but not ST (ST vs TM: V̇O2peak: −9% vs 24%, P<.01; 6MWD: 1% vs 15%, P=.05; insulin: −1% vs −31%, P=.05; HOMA-IR: −3% vs −29%, P=.06). Plasma concentrations of nitrotyrosine, protein carbonyls, and oxidized low-density lipoprotein (oxLDL) tended to decrease from pre-intervention concentrations in response to TM compared to ST (ST vs TM: nitrotyrosine: 2% vs −28%, P=.01; protein carbonyls: −4% vs −34%, P=.08; oxLDL: −3% vs −32%, P<.01). Changes in circulating concentrations of C-reactive protein, protein carbonyls, and oxLDL were negatively associated with changes in V̇O2peak and 6MWD (r's=−0.40 to −0.76) and positively associated with fasting plasma insulin and HOMA-IR (r's=0.52-0.81, Ps<.01). Conclusions: Six months of TM tends to be associated with increased functional capacity and reduced oxidative stress in chronic stroke survivors. Our findings identify potentially modifiable systemic markers of inflammation and oxidative stress important to stroke rehabilitation and provide potential targets for novel therapeutics in future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2077-2084
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Exercise training
  • Inflammation
  • Oxidative stress
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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