A stroke can have a significant impact on an individual’s life, affecting mobility, cognitive function, and overall well-being. However, exercise is a powerful tool which can be used to offer not just physical improvements but also contributing to mental and emotional well-being.
Physical Benefits of Exercise After Stroke:
- Improved Mobility: Regaining and enhancing mobility after a stroke helps strengthen weakened muscles, improves balance, and enhances coordination, enabling individuals to regain independence in daily activities.
- Reduced Risk of Secondary Complications: Lower the risk of secondary complications such as muscle stiffness, joint contractures, and cardiovascular issues, which are common after a stroke.
- Enhanced Cardiovascular Health: Walking, swimming, or cycling help improve heart health, reducing the risk of future strokes by enhancing circulation and lowering blood pressure.
Cognitive and Emotional Benefits:
- Enhanced Cognitive Function: Exercise has been linked to improved cognitive function and can aid in restoring cognitive abilities affected by stroke, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving skills.
- Mood Improvement: Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, promoting a positive mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and depression commonly experienced post-stroke.
Exercise Recommendations for Stroke Survivors:
- Low-impact aerobic exercises like walking, stationary cycling, or water aerobics are beneficial for improving cardiovascular health without putting excessive strain on joints.
- Aerobic exercise should be completed 3-5 days per week for 15-30 mins at an intensity of 40-80% of maximal effort.
- Gentle resistance exercises using resistance bands or light weights help strengthen muscles and aid in restoring mobility.
- Strength exercise should be completed 3-5 days per week for 30-45 mins at an intensity of up to 80% of maximal effort.
Balance and Coordination Exercises
- Tai Chi, yoga or balance-specific exercises can improve balance, coordination, and flexibility, reducing the risk of falls.
- Balance exercises should be completed daily.
- Stretching exercises help maintain and improve flexibility, reducing muscle stiffness and improving range of motion.
- Flexibility exercise should be completed 3-5 days per week for 10-20 mins, working to below a point of slight discomfort.
Start Slow and Progress Gradually: Begin with short sessions of exercise and gradually increase intensity and duration as tolerated.
Exercise post-stroke is not just about physical rehabilitation but also about reclaiming a fulfilling life. Its benefits extend greater than just physically, positively impacting mental and emotional well-being. By incorporating tailored exercises into a daily routine under professional guidance, stroke survivors can embark on a journey toward recovery, independence, and improved overall health.
Remember, every individual’s journey is unique. Consultation with healthcare providers and personalised exercise plans are essential to ensure safety and efficacy in the post-stroke recovery process. If you would like help managing your exercise routine post stoke, be sure to reach out!