Why Physical Activity is Beneficial After a Stroke
If you’re suffered a stroke, exercising is going to not only help you regain mobility, but help to prevent another one from occurring.
Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the West, accounting for around 9 percent of all deaths each year. Strokes affect 700,000 people every year in the USA; 500,000 of these are a first attack. Stroke is the main cause of disability in adults – around four million Americans are living with the after-effects of a stroke. Rehabilitation through exercise can greatly increase mobility and quality of life.
Recovering from a stroke is a long process, and exercising is not only good for your rehabilitation but will boost your mood too. After a stroke, you may have been inactive for a while and become frustrated at not being able to do much.
The Stroke Association provide some good advice specifically for stroke victims – read their Exercise and Stroke to learn more. Exercising will help you to recover some of the fitness you may have lost after your stroke and will help to improve your mental health.
You may have many questions about post-stroke exercise. What can I do? What if I can’t stand for long? Well, we’ve put together this guide to give you all the advice you need.
Strokes affect people in very different ways, and that means recovery is not a one size fits all process. Some people recover quickly from their stroke, while others are left with more serious effects that need long term support.
Your rehabilitation will usually start when you’re in hospital and will carry on after you leave at a local clinic. The more serious your impairments after the stoke, the more work you and your care team will need to put in for you to regain full fitness.
All of this will be explained to you by your doctor, and a specially tailored plan just for you will be put together. Both the NHS and the NIH provide excellent advice on how to best recover from a stroke.
Exercise is the Best Rehab
It’s important to try and build strength on your weaker side after your stroke, rather than just relying on your ‘good’ side.
While doing this is hard at first, it’s going to help you regain as much of your fitness as possible. You should always ask your care team for advice before you start exercising, as some kinds of exercise may not be suitable for you – depending on how you were affected by your stroke.
Activities where you use your good arm to move your affected arm are a good place to start. This video provides some good exercises you can follow:
If you’re unable to stand, chair based exercise is beneficial – and there are a large number of exercise classes that offer this.
A cardiovascular exercise bike for the disabled, such as those manufactured by YouBike, is a good option too, as they can be used by people who need to sit down or remain in a wheelchair while exercising. These bikes can be used under the supervision of your care team and then when you are ready, as part of your exercise routine at home.
As fitness improves, band exercises can be done – the National Stroke Association document has a series of excellent exercises (see. Ch. 4, Movement and Exercise, of “HOPE: A Stroke Recovery Guide”, from page 58 onwards).
Stretching, weight bearing and resistance exercises are all going to help you to recover as much strength and movement as possible.
It will be worth it
Exercising after your stroke isn’t just going to help you recover, it will also help to prevent another stroke by keeping your blood pressure low.
Being able to meet your exercise goals will give you something to work towards and boost your confidence. It’s all too easy to think that your life is over when you suffer a stroke – but that’s simply not the case.
Exercising regularly and being patient with yourself will help you to start feeling well again. As long as you remember not to push yourself too hard and to always seek the advice of a medical professional before you start exercising, there’s no reason why you can’t look forward to a healthy and active life after your stroke.