Tristan Maynard, 71, had a stroke in March 2018, which left him in constant pain and paralysed on his right side.
Supported by his physiotherapists and Moving Forward After Stroke group, Tristan looked for ways to build movement into his daily routine to help him get active again.
Set yourself goals
“I set myself short, medium and long-term goals. My immediate goal was to be able to walk to the toilet. The pain was indescribable, but I kept at it.
As I improved, I aimed to walk to the corner shop to get the newspaper. The day I did it, I was so chuffed. It took me a while as I had to keep pausing, but it felt incredible.
To begin with, I could only walk by swinging my right leg out in a semi-circle. I wanted to be able to walk in a straight line to take my daughter down the aisle at her wedding, so I practised at the exercise classes, and at home by walking along a join in the tarmac on our cul-de-sac. The neighbours thought I was mad, but I could soon do 30-40 yards!”
Start slowly and build up
“You don't spring out of bed and start doing star jumps! You build up slowly. I did physiotherapy exercises every day for nine months. For example, there’s an exercise where you take macaroni pieces out of a cup and line them up on the table. To begin with, it was agony. But it got me using my fingers and helped me to write again.
I still do half sit-ups, leg and arm raises for 10-15 minutes every day, but I have fatigue so I take breaks when I need to.”
Build activities into your daily routine
“Treat ordinary activities as exercises, for example making a cup of tea or picking stuff up off the floor. Look at lifting the hoover as the same as lifting a dumbbell! Doing the washing up or loading and unloading the dishwasher can help with dexterity and strength. Some days, you do three cups and that's enough. But you've tried. It’s important to get a sense of achievement from the little things.”
Do what you enjoy
“I love woodwork and DIY, which are good for arm strength. Gardening was fundamental to my recovery. It gets you moving and gives you something to look forward to. Even if you don’t have a garden, some plant pots on a windowsill can give you a lot of satisfaction. I also go swimming every week, which helps with the pain and is a good resistance exercise.”
Try activities with others
“Group exercise sessions are good because you can see your progress. It’s also helpful to get tips from other stroke survivors and to know you’re not alone.”