Everyone knows that exercise is good for your health, and for stroke survivors this is no different. Now this can be a very daunting image when trying to deal with all the challenges someone may face after having a stroke. The thought of ‘lifting heavy weights in a gym’ or ‘running on a treadmill and sweating like crazy’ seem like the absolute furthest thing that you would be capable of doing right now. But we must stop associating the word exercise with that image in our heads, as it is not always the case.
After having a stroke, the person will experience a range of things that could get in the way of exercising. This includes disability, fatigue, depression etc. But we know that appropriate exercise can actually help improve these things!
An individualized exercise program (prescribed by an exercise physiologist or physiotherapist) has so many benefits, including:
Regaining function and independence
Preventing a second stroke
Strengthening your heart muscle and lungs
Lowering your blood pressure
Improving walking ability, muscle strength and endurance
Improving coordination and balance
Improving mental health
Reduce fatigue and improve energy levels
Reduce pain levels
So what does all of that actually mean when we think about our everyday life?
Well firstly, preventing a second stroke from happening should be a top priority. Exercise does this through actions such as lowering your blood pressure, helping in weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight, reducing cholesterol levels and blood sugar levels etc.
As for regaining function and independence, that basically means that someone has the ability to do things for themselves. This could be things as simple as cooking, dressing or washing themselves, getting to and from appointments, standing up out of their bed or chair. These all seem like pretty basic things but after a stroke they can become increasingly difficult to do. For this to happen, you need to improve your muscle strength and endurance, fitness levels (think strengthening your heart and lungs) and balance which can contribute to you being able to walk and move around easier. Research also shows that engaging in regular physical activity and exercise can improve energy levels as well as reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. All these factors combined improve someone’s quality of life and allow them to lead a more meaningful life.
If you know someone who has had a stroke that you think would benefit from engaging in an individualized exercise program, please contact us on email@example.com or (02) 8969 6300.