Stroke affects millions of Americans and is a leading cause of disability. In addition to chronic disability, many survivors experience depressive symptoms such as reductions in mood and motivation. Post-stroke depression (PSD) is associated with poorer recovery from stroke, increased health care costs and higher mortality. Additionally, PSD may interfere with the recovery of the nervous system after stroke. Effective treatment options for PSD are limited and often come with side effects, highlighting the need for alternative treatment approaches. Aerobic exercise (AEx) has positive effects on the nervous system, is a powerful anti-depressant, and has limited side effects, yet remains underutilized in stroke survivors with PSD. This study will examine the short-term effects of AEx on the nervous system in stroke survivors with and without PSD. The results will serve as a foundation for the study of AEx as a treatment for PSD.
Aerobic exercise training has positive effects on depression severity and mood in individuals with depression. The effects of single sessions of aerobic exercise may also provide some short-term benefits in depression. It is believed that a reduction in depression severity may be facilitated by changes in the nervous system, however this has yet to be examined. Although aerobic exercise has beneficial effects for those with depression it is unclear as to why this may occur. Therefore the goal of our project is to better understand the effect of a single session of aerobic exercise on the nervous system, physiology, and mood in depression.