Moger: Importance of exercising to help recover from a stroke

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends exercise after a stroke to improve functional capacity.

I recently attended a workshop on the importance of exercise for those recovering from a stroke and wanted to share some information from what I learned.

While you may not be able to control your genetic predisposition, age, gender or ethnicity, you can do something about other factors that could increase your risk of having a stroke such as obesity, diet, diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, these are the risk issues you can do something about: High blood pressure (hypertension), high blood cholesterol, atrial fibrillation, being overweight, diabetes, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, smoking and stress

The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends exercise after a stroke to improve functional capacity, the ability to perform activities of daily living and quality of life, and to reduce the risk for subsequent cardiovascular events .

Many post-stroke patients have the ability to reach higher levels of physical activity, but choose not to do to the lack of awareness that exercise is feasible and desirable, or don’t feel they have access to appropriate exercise resources.

Exercise is key in decreasing the risk of an additional stroke, enhances motor control, increases strength and flexibility, and it’s very important to improve balance and return to normal movement.

Some 20 to 40 per cent of stroke survivors state that fatigue is the most debilitating symptom.

Reasons for this are due to the additional effort needed to move due to compensation for weak muscles, is physical deconditioning and self-perpetuating fatigue cycle.

Exercise helps to improve post-stroke fatigue by increasing energy levels and decreases the risk of depression.

The recommendations for stroke patients are not very different from the rest of us—at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week, which should include 20 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise such as walking, stationary cycling and being on the treadmill; strength training using free weights weight machines or circuit training  two to three days a week coupled with stretching flexibility exercises on a regular basis.

There is appropriate group fitness classes and specialized personal training available for post-stroke individuals. For more information call 250-317-3508

Keep in mind that suffering a stroke is a medical emergency and below are some of the signs of a stroke in the acronym F.A.S.T:

F- Face—Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A-Arms—Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S- Speech—Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T-Time—If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately

If you or someone with you experiences any of these signs, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately.

Acting quickly can improve your survival and recovery.

Kelowna Capital News

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