Get stronger! Live longer!
Suffering a stroke can be a debilitating and traumatic experience for the body, mind and spirit. Depending on the severity of your stroke, full recovery can take anywhere from 3 months to several years. For many stroke survivors, one or both sides of the body is affected in a way that prevents normal function and inhibits full independence to perform tasks of daily living. Impaired mobility, balance, cognition, memory and muscle weakness are among the short and long-term effects of suffering a stroke. Even 5 years later, as a stroke survivor, you may experience issues with concentration, mobility, strength and an increased risk of falling (and subsequent injury).
Exercise can help! Studies have shown that physical activity may greatly improve quality of life for stroke survivors. The benefits of exercising (cardiovascular and resistance training) after your stroke may include:
- weight/body fat loss - improvement in blood sugar stabilization
- reduction of inflammation in arteries
- improvement of strength, balance and stability
- improvement in cardiovascular endurance
- increased energy
- ability to regain normal physical function to perform activities of daily living
- reduction of feelings of stress and depression
- prevention of second stroke and management of potential long-term physical complications
To get back on your feet, increase your strength, stamina, stability and build cardiovascular endurance, beginning a structured, customized exercise program when you are physically able to (and cleared by your doctor) is crucial. Many stroke survivors will require physical and/or occupational therapy when they are in the early stages of stroke recovery. During this therapy you may need to relearn how to do basic activities of daily living such as walking, rolling over in bed and standing from a seated position.
After this type of therapy is completed, consulting with a fitness professional who specializes in post-rehabilitation exercise would be beneficial to help you safely reach your specific health and fitness goals, by designing a program that is individualized to suit your potentially complex physical needs. A post-rehab fitness professional's main goal is to increase your muscle strength and bone density (which we lose as a result of aging, regardless) and to restore your mobility, stability and balance so that you may function independently in your daily living. Working with someone who has experience with stroke survivors is helpful because survivors may have unique challenges that may require specially designed exercises.
Getting your independence back after suffering a stroke is important and more likely to happen if you get started with a fitness routine that includes cardiovascular exercise and resistance (weight) training, as well as flexibility and balance training. Take charge of your health! Get stronger! Live longer!
Below are the links to resources that provide more information about the benefits of exercise for stroke survivors: Physical Activity Activity & Exercise After Stroke Mobility & Exercise After Stroke Fact Sheet
Mobility and exercise after stroke fact sheet - Stroke Foundation - Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Help-after-stroke/Stroke-resources-and-fact-sheets/Mobility-and-exercise-after-stroke-fact-sheet
Physical Activity and Exercise After Stroke. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.004311