Our leisure time is valuable, and taking part in hobbies and interests is an important part of life after stroke. Doing something you love, for fun, relaxation or learning, can help you to feel good and enjoy life.

Getting involved in a leisure activity can also be rewarding in many different ways. It could raise your confidence, improve anxiety or low mood, or help you get fit. It can also help your recovery, by giving you enjoyable time communicating, thinking and learning, or being physically active.

The information on this page can be accessed in the following formats:

On this page:

Can I do my usual activities?
Finding new interests
Trying physical activities
Looking for ways to spend your leisure time?
Where can I get information and advice?
Things you can try near you
Access this information in different formats

Can I do my usual activities?

You might be able to go back to an old interest. But it can sometimes be difficult to return to an old hobby because of the effects of your stroke. If that's the case for you, it might be possible to adapt an activity so that you can take part. That could mean learning to do something in a different way, and an occupational therapist might be able to help you.

There might be a practical solution such as using some technology or equipment. Or you might be able to do your activity with help from another person, such as having a partner for country walking if you find it difficult to go on your own.

You might find that you can take up an activity after making more progress with your recovery. For suggestions on getting the therapy you need, including accessing private therapy, contact our Helpline.

Finding new interests

If you are not able to return to your usual hobby, think about your interests and abilities. Are there any new activities you can try out that might suit you? Get your friends and family involved in helping you find new hobbies. They know you well and might come up with something you haven't thought of.

This information offers ideas to get you thinking, and there are other organisations with expertise in inclusive leisure. There may also be local groups that you can join. You might need to try a few different things before you find the right fit.

Trying physical activities

Starting a physical activity can help your fitness and wellbeing. If you're new to physical activity and movement, start slowly and build up. Like any other leisure activity, you might need to try a few things before you find something you love.

You may be able to access a local exercise referral scheme. This can let you try out an exercise group or gym, often at your local leisure centre. There are inclusive versions of many types of sport.

Exercise can help you feel good. The only exception is if you have very high blood pressure or a health condition that might risk you getting ill or injured if you take exercise. If you're not sure, check with your GP first.

Looking for ways to spend your leisure time?

Here are some things you could try:

  • Animals - keeping a pet, birdwatching.
  • Arts and crafts - drawing, painting, pottery, making models or cards.
  • Cinema or theatre - some have special events or clubs.
  • Cooking - trying new recipes, baking, learning about healthy eating.
  • Days out - visiting art galleries, museums or historic buildings.
  • Gardening - indoor plants, flower shows, growing vegetables.
  • Music - listening to music, playing an instrument or going to concerts.
  • Photography - taking photos or visiting exhibitions.
  • Puzzles and games - jigsaws, crosswords, sudoku, playing board games or computer games.
  • Reading - books or newspapers or magazines.
  • Needlecraft - books, newspapers or magazines (these may be available in different formats such as large print or audio).
  • Sport and physical activity - watching or taking part.
  • Walking - a great way to get active and see new things, whether it's in the countryside or city.
  • Writing - letters, stories or poetry, writing to a pen friend.

Hobbies can be very relaxing and it can take your mind off the situation, off the problem. It can also help with your recovery.

Rhian, Helpline Officer

Where can I get information and advice?

If you want to try a new hobby or return to an old one, but you're not sure how, try talking to other stroke survivors to get some advice.

Stroke clubs and groups
Stroke clubs and groups offer support to people who have had a stroke. They are usually led by volunteers, often stroke survivors and carers themselves, and meet regularly, usually in local halls or community centres.

Each club and group is different, but most offer activities. These can include everything from speakers, outings and art classes, through to communication and exercise sessions. Find out if we have a stroke club in your area.

My Stroke Guide
If you want to try a new hobby or return to an old one, try talking to other stroke survivors to get some advice, My Stroke Guide is the online stroke support tool from the Stroke Association.

Visit My Stroke Guide to find easy-to-read information, advice and videos about stroke. And our chat forums can connect you to our online community, to hear how others manage their recovery.

Gardening and stroke
"It helps my self-esteem, it helps my mood. I look at my Fitbit and it's amazing how much exercise I've done, it also helps me with my diet. Any problems I have just fade away when you're on your hands and knees digging weeds out. It just helps you feel better."
Jonathan Jones, Stroke Survivor

Gardening is a brilliant hobby to improve physical activity, mobility and emotional wellbeing. We have teamed up with the kind folk at Dobbies Garden Centres to provide people affected with stroke practical information and advice to support them with getting into gardening - no matter their experience or starting point. You can find the information on My Stroke Guide.

Stroke News magazine
Stroke News is our magazine for everyone affected by stroke, produced three times a year. It's full of stories and personal advice from stroke survivors and carers, and it also includes emotional and practical guidance on coping with life after stroke. Stroke News is available as an audio recording, as well as in print and online.

Go online
Search for websites, blogs and social media sites where you can read about leisure activities for people with health problems and disabilities. You could sign up for a newsletter, or join a Facebook group to get updates and tips shared by professionals and people with disabilities.

Things you can try near you

Visit your local library
They may have details of local clubs and events. Look out for leaflets and posters. They also often stock books in large print and on CD, and many offer audio books, eBooks and eJournals.

Contact your local council
our local council has details of day centres and other clubs near you. Some councils have this information on their website.

Try learning something new
any areas offer adult learning, either at a local authority adult education centre or a museum or library. You can try courses in arts and crafts, technology, music, exercise and many more. You can also find courses run by a business or individual, such as dressmaking or pottery at a local craft centre. Contact the centre for details of courses on offer. Although you will usually have to pay for these courses, some centres offer concessions if you are disabled or on certain benefits.

Visit your local leisure centre
Some local sports centres and swimming pools offer discounted membership or specialist classes for people with disabilities. You may be able to find a tailored exercise programme for people with health conditions or group fitness sessions with a specialist coach that your GP can refer you to.

Other activities like diabetes education groups take place at leisure centres. Some movement and relaxation activities like yoga, Zumba or meditation are often available at leisure centres. These can be a good way to get moving after a stroke. They can also help you feel good and improve your mood. Leisure centres should be accessible to people with disabilities. This can include help to use the swimming pool such as a hoist. They may offer accessible gym equipment and sessions for people with disabilities.