How Important Is Exercise After A Stroke, Even After Physical Therapy

Exercise is important at every stage in life, but even more so after a stroke. It is important to follow the doctors’ instructions to help you get back to your best health. You do not have to have long strenuous gym exercise to achieve your optimum health after your stroke. It can be as easy a grabbing a friend and heading out for a walk, or some light strength training at the gym.

How Aerobic Exercises Help After a Stroke

It is very important to make aerobic exercises a part of your daily routine after you have a stroke. There are many benefits to exercising after your stroke. It can help to lower blood your pressure, help to build your muscle strength, coordination, balance, weight loss, endurance, mental health, and many more benefits.

What Exercises Should I do After a Stroke

Always follow your doctors’ instructions for your rehabilitation plan. The American Stroke Association strongly recommends walking along with pedaling on a stationary bike, water aerobics, resistance training, along with balance and stretching exercises. Your physical therapist will help determine what exercises you need based on what was affected by your stroke.

How Much Should You Exercise After a Stroke

Your doctor will give you a game plan for recovering after your stroke. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions. This includes diet and exercise. As important as it is to exercise, you do not want to overdo it. This could have the opposite effect of what you are trying to obtain. Keep it slow and steady as you build up your strength and endurance. It will take time, but the end result is worth the process to get there.

The American Stroke Association says that regular physical activity following a stroke can also help reduce the risk of falls and other complications like heart disease and future strokes. It is important to note that there are many other benefits from exercising, so keep up the routine even after physical therapy to keep your body and healthy and active as possible.

Benefits of Physical Therapy/ Exercising After a Stroke

We have already discussed some of the benefits of exercising after you have a stroke but let us look at some of the treatments that your physical therapist may suggest for you.

-Walking and balance training. Walking independently after a stroke is one of the key goals in post-stroke rehabilitation. Your brain signals for your lower limbs, muscles, and joints to move in a certain way, however, after a stroke, these signals may become disrupted making it a challenge to stand and walk. Your physical therapist will work with you to help you improve in this area.

-Strength and resistance training. This can include weightlifting, certain exercise machines that help build strength and resistance, along with some simple physical activities such as standing and sitting repetitively.

-Task-oriented and functional training. This type of training helps you practice real-life activities that you need in real-life settings. This helps to lead to improvements in functional outcomes and your overall health-related quality of life.

-Constraint-induced movement therapy. This is a specialized approach used to increase the use of your arms. For example, your physical therapist may have you wear a mitt or a sling on the less-affected arm 90% of the time to force you to use the affected arm. You may be asked to perform repetitive task-oriented exercises with the affected arm 6-7 hours per day for about 10 – 15 consecutive weekdays. This helps you to build your strength back in the affected arm.

-Motor imagery and mental practice. This method involves stimulation of the neural system while a person imagines performing a task or body movement without actually physically performing the movement. It is believed that this form of physical therapy helps to stimulate the part of your brain that controls the needed movement.

The key to a successful recovery is consistency. Recovery requires a steady, repetitive program of walking and exercise to be effective. It is important to keep up your physical exercise even after your physical therapy is complete.

Hiring an experienced exercise professional after PT discharge will help continue your recovery. Science is discovering that due to neuroplasticity, recovery after a brain injury never stops. 

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