A stroke is a serious medical condition that can affect your life. It’s important to know that as you recover from a stroke, exercise is crucial for your long-term health. Exercise helps reduce stress, build muscle strength, and keep weight in check. There are many benefits of exercise after a stroke: If you’ve recently suffered, it’s natural to feel unsure about what activities are safe for you during recovery, as with most things involving the body and its functions, balance, and coordination impact your ability to exercise safely and effectively.
1. Exercise Helps Reduce Stress
A stroke is a stressful event for the body and the mind. When we exercise, the brain releases chemicals that can help reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Less stress in the body also means less risk of stroke reoccurrence. Studies have shown that patients with a history of stroke who exercise regularly have reduced blood pressure and decreased risk of developing high blood pressure, a risk factor for stroke. Regular exercise also helps reduce blood sugar levels in the body, which is important for anyone with diabetes. It may also help reduce cravings for sugary or salty snacks, which can be a huge temptation during recovery. Exercise may also help you sleep better at night, which can be another stress-reducing bonus.
2. Exercise Helps Build Muscle Strength
As part of the healing process after a stroke, we may lose some muscle tone and strength. Stroke exercises can help prevent these muscle deficits and help you regain lost strength. When you engage in strength training, you help protect against muscle loss and strengthen joint and bone tissue. This can be particularly helpful as you recover from a stroke that has affected the upper or lower limbs. Exercise may also help you improve your balance and coordination, which can help reduce the risk of a falling or re-occurring stroke. Exercise can also help you increase flexibility, which can help prevent injury in other areas of the body. This is particularly important for stroke survivors who may feel limited by pain or decreased mobility. Increased flexibility can help improve posture and may also help prevent pain or injury in the joints, muscles, or bones.
3. Exercise Helps Maintain Weight
Stroke survivors often worry about weight gain, particularly as they progress through their recovery. When you exercise regularly, your body burns calories. This can help prevent weight gain and even help you lose weight if you are consistent with your exercise routine. No one wants to be overweight, but it can be particularly dangerous for stroke survivors. Excess weight can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and other serious health conditions. It could also affect the successful completion of your rehabilitation program. Exercise can also help improve your mood and curb cravings for sugary or salty snacks. Both of these can help prevent and reduce weight gain. Regular exercise may also help you feel full sooner, which can help prevent you from overeating.
4. Exercise Helms Recovery of Limb Function
As you progress through stroke recovery, you may notice changes in your strength and mobility in the limbs affected by the stroke. Exercise can help improve strength and coordination in these limbs, which can help with everyday activities. It can also help reduce spasticity, a common stroke symptom that manifests as tightness and muscle spasms in the limbs. Exercise can help improve strength, mobility, and coordination in the arm or leg affected by a stroke. This can help improve your ability to perform activities of daily living and reduce the risk of re-occurring symptoms, such as spasticity.
5. Exercise Helms Stroke Recovery by Helping the Brain
Exercise helps spur new connections in stroke survivors’ brains, including the area of the brain affected by the stroke. This can help prevent cognitive decline, which may concern many stroke survivors who experience memory loss after their stroke. Exercise can also help improve your attention span and ability to focus, which is important for all aspects of life, including stroke recovery. Exercise also helps improve mood, which can help prevent and reduce cognitive decline. It may also help prevent or reduce anxiety, which can stimulate the production of cortisol, a hormone that can cause damage to the brain. It may improve sleep, which is another way to help prevent cognitive decline.
Exercise is important to stroke recovery. After all, exercise is important to many aspects of health and is also a great place to start if you’ve ever wondered how to recover from a stroke.