Preventing Recurrent Stroke: Getting Active

Being active is key to preventing stroke. It’s good for your heart and lowers high blood pressure. It also helps you keep doing independent activities of daily living. Moving around also helps you recover lost skills. It’s best if you’re active at least 30 minutes each day. But this doesn’t have to be at a gym. The key is finding things that fit your lifestyle and abilities. If you have trouble moving around, your doctor may prescribe physical therapy. The physical therapist can help you  develop physical activity goals and provide an exercise prescription. Low- to moderate-intensity aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities are an important part of recovery.

Senior woman standing at mailbox in front of house.

Ways to get moving

After a stroke, you may not be able to do everything you used to. But there are still simple ways you can stay active:

  • Rake leaves or work in the garden.

  • Play with children or grandchildren.

  • Work on a hobby.

  • Park farther away from building entrances and walk.

  • Sweep or vacuum your living space.

  • Use the stairs instead of the elevator. If walking up is too strenuous, you can start by walking down. 

  • If walking is hard, try stretching exercises or swimming.

Walk every day

Walking is great exercise. It’s free, easy, and all you need is a good pair of shoes. Start with short walks. Then go a little farther each week. The tips below can help:

  • Warm up. Start off with a few minutes of strolling. Then walk at a brisker pace.

  • Walk every chance you get. Walk to do errands, for fun, or to visit friends. Visit a local park or explore your neighborhood.

  • Take a friend along. Having company can make it more fun.

  • Walk farther each week. Try walking a little farther or longer each week. You may be surprised by how fast you improve!

When to stop

If you’re new to exercising, it’s normal to feel a little sore afterward. But you should stop right away if you:

  • Have trouble breathing.

  • Feel dizzy or extremely tired.

  • Have sharp pain.

Stick with it

Some days it may seem hard to be active. Plan ways to keep going anyway. Your health and life are on the line. Make a list of things that might keep you from exercising. Then write down what you can do to get around those things. 

For family and friends

It’s much easier for your loved one to be active when you join in. Try these tips:

  • Go for walks together.

  • Ask your loved one to join in during activities, such as making dinner.

  • If he or she starts making excuses, suggest ways to overcome the roadblocks.

  • Cheer every improvement!