Exercise is great for your health. It plays a vital role in reducing your risk of stroke and can improve your overall wellbeing.
Regular exercise can help to lower your blood pressure and help you maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that regular moderate exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by 27%.
How much exercise should I do?
If you have recently had a stroke, you may not be able to exercise regularly straight away. You should only start exercising once you have recovered enough and only do as much as you can manage. Talk to your doctor or therapist about what is right for you.
Any amount of exercise will help, but if you can manage it, you should aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more times a week. You don’t have to do all 30 minutes at once, it can be broken up into smaller blocks of time throughout the day.
You can choose any form of exercise as long as the activity increases your heart rate and makes you feel warm and a little out of breath.
If you haven’t been active for some time, and especially if you’re over 40 or have a medical condition, make sure you speak to your doctor before you start doing lots of physical activity.
How can I do more exercise?
There are lots of ways to be more active, even if you find it difficult to move around.
You may need to adapt your activities, or try new ones. If you are currently receiving physiotherapy, talk to your physiotherapist. They will be able to give you advice about suitable exercises and activities to try. Going to a gym may be an option if they have the right facilities and supervision. Or if you find it difficult to exercise whilst standing, you may be able to use an exercise bike.
If your movement has been affected by your stroke, you may find chair-based exercises more suitable. These involve doing a series of seated stretches and movements to increase your heart rate and exercise your muscles and joints. Lots of stroke clubs have chair-based exercise classes, or you may also find one at your local leisure or community centre.
Here are some other tips that may help:
- find something you enjoy as you'll be more likely to stick with it
- try something new – perhaps you’ve always wanted to have a go at dancing, now’s your chance
- get an exercise partner – see if a friend or family member can join you and you can encourage each othe.
- exercise to music – play some music you enjoy and the time will soon pass
- reward yourself – set yourself some goals and reward yourself when you reach them. Your goal could be anything from walking further than last time, to keeping to your exercise plan.
- if you want to walk more, try checking your progress by using a pedometer. This is a small portable device that counts the number of steps you take and the distance you have walked
- keep going – it might be hard at first, but it does get easier.
Find out more
There’s lots more about exercise and tips to help you get more active, especially after a stroke, in our leaflet Exercise and stroke.